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Immunisation

  • Everyone
  • For Coursework
  • Children
  • Travel

General Precautions

Before having any vaccination, refer to prescribing information, particularly to contra-indications and warnings, and for further details you should see the University Medical Centre, or your local doctor.

Before having any immunisations, tell the doctor if you

  • are pregnant or may become so
  • are allergic to anything
  • have an immune problem (eg. if you are taking steroids or cancer drugs, have leukaemia or HIV/AIDS)
  • have had any serious illnesses or operations.

All students and staff should be vaccinated against:

1. Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis

All adults in the community, including all students and staff, are advised to maintain their immunity to Tetanus/Diphtheria and Pertussis. Young adults who have received 4 doses in their first five years of life should have a further dose in the form of Boostrix at the age of 15-19 years. If the basic course for Tetanus/Diptheria/Pertussis was not given in childhood special considerations apply, and you should consult your GP for advice on a catch-up vaccination schedule.

Severe reactions to the vaccine are rare, and they are much less common than the effects that occur with the disease itself.

2. Polio

Polio Vaccine is now an injectable vaccine and is included in the national childhood immunization program (Infanrix-hexa, Infanrix-IPV). It may also be recommended to travellers to certain areas and those at risk. There is a Boostrix IPV or alone as IPV (inactivated polio vaccine).

3. Measles, Mumps and Rubella

Measles vaccine is recommended for all non-immune adults, particularly health workers or those who lack a history of childhood illness or immunisation. Adults born after 1965 and before 1983 are identified as an "at risk" group who have a higher susceptibility to measles. It is important to boost immunity to measles in young adults entering University as outbreaks may occur.

For vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella, a combined vaccine (MMR or Priorix) is usually used. Two doses of MMR provide protection against measles to over 98% of those immunised.

MMR vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine that has been used worldwide for many years. It is safe to have the vaccine even in those who have had previous measles or measles vaccination

4. Mumps

Mumps vaccination is recommended for non-immune adults, particularly health workers or those who lack a history of childhood illness or immunisation. It is important to boost immunity to mumps in young adults entering university as outbreaks may occur.

For vaccination against mumps, the combined vaccine for mumps, measles and rubella (MMR or Priorix) is used.

5. Rubella

Rubella vaccination is important for everybody. However we do not immunise females who are or may shortly become pregnant with the Rubella vaccine as it may cause birth deformities in the same way that rubella infection in pregnancy can cause Congential Rubella Syndrome in babies born to women who do not have immunity to rubella.

It is considered good practice that in females Rubella vaccination should be followed by a blood test to establish whether adequate immunity to Rubella has been achieved.

For vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella a combined vaccine (MMR or Priorix) is usually used.

6. Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B vaccination is recommended for all, and is now included in routine national immunisation program.

If your blood test shows Hepatitis B antibodies (Hep B s Ab > 10 IU/l) then you are considered immune and do not require this vaccine. This may save you the cost of the vaccine.

There is good evidence that a successfully completed primary course (three injection over a six month period) followed by a blood test which demonstrates a Hep B Ab >10 IU/l will provide long lasting protection from Hepatitis B in normal individuals. If successful, then further boosters are not recommended .

A combined vaccine against Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B is available (Twinrix).

An approved rapid immunisation schedule is also available for student needing urgent immunisation against Hepatitis A and B. This allow for the vaccination intervals to be shortened however in all accelerated schedules a fourth vaccination at 1 year from commencement of the immunisation schedule is required for long lasting immunity.

7. Meningitis

This vaccine helps provide protection against the C strain of meningitis infection. The C strain is responsible for more than half the deaths from meningitis infection, but patients should be aware of the symptoms of meningitis (prostration, rash, fever, headache, drowsiness, irritability) as there is also a B strain, which is not covered by any vaccine.

There is also a vaccine for travellers which protects for the A, W, and Y strains (this is not the vaccine commonly used within Australia) and only last for 3 years.

Meningitis C (C strain) vaccine is recommended for students and staff residing in residential colleges of the University and in any other group accommodation, for whom the risk of meningitis is higher.

The C strain vaccine is supplied free by the Government for 1 to 5 year olds.

Consult the prescribing details for each vaccine, particularly for contraindications and warnings.

Immunisations for Health Care Workers

Health workers are exposed to infectious diseases as part of their work. Vaccination is available for some of these infections to protect both health care workers and patients.

Your routine vaccinations need to be up to date and you MUST be vaccinated for Hepatitis B and have serological proof that the immunization has taken.

The Faculty of Health provides their students with an immunisation form outlining mandatory vaccinations (PDF 485 KB), and required time frames before clinical placements are undertaken.  Please bring this form and any proof of vaccination status with you when you see the University Health Centre or your GP for a consult regarding your vaccination status.  It is important to tell your immunizing doctor if you:

  • are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
  • are allergic to anything
  • have an immune problem (eg if you are taking steroids or cancer drugs, have leukaemia or HIV/AIDS) or live in a household with someone with an immune problem.

If you didn't have these vaccines as a child, catch-up schedules may be available in some cases.  If you will be in close contact with young infants and have not had a diphtheria/tetanus booster (ADT) in the last 5 years you should have a Pertussis /Diphtheria/Tetanus vaccine (Boostrix)

This is a general guide only. Details will vary depending on exactly what immunizations you have had previously.

Tuberculosis Skin Test

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection which is found in every country of the world. Australia has approximately 1,000 cases each year.  Usually it infects the chest, but other organs can be involved. In Australia there is excellent antibiotic treatment for TB, and people are expected to recover from the disease. The TB vaccine (BCG) is not routinely given in Australia, but overseas it often forms part of the childhood immunisation schedule.

Students enrolled in Faculty of Health Courses are required to have a Tuberculin Skin Test (PDF 300KB) and/or Chest X-ray depending on the individual's previous screening results and health history. This screen needs to be performed at an accredited facility - which in the ACT is the Department of Thoracic Medicine at The Canberra Hospital.

Meningococcal Infection

Health care workers can be exposed to meningococcal disease at work and should consider vaccination if they have not already been vaccinated in a school program.

Childhood immunizations and school based programmes for 15-20 year olds provide free menincococcal vaccine .

Hepatitis B

It is important for health care workers to be protected against Hepatitis B.

Hepatitis B is a highly contagious viral liver infection. It is spread by body fluids, contaminated needles, blood products and sexual contact.

The usual vaccination course is three injections spread over a 6 month period. It is necessary to have a blood test a minimum of 6 weeks after the 3rd injection to confirm immune to Hepatitis B.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A vaccine is now recommended for some health workers – those working in paediatrics, intensive care and emergency departments and in rural and remote indigenous communities. It is also recommended for all childcare workers. The immunisation schedule consists of 2 injections 6 to 12 months apart.

Hepatitis A vaccine is also strongly recommended for travel especially to developing countries.

Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)

Two doses are required and MMR vaccine is now given at one year and four years of age.

In the past MMR was given at school (usually Year 7/8). If you have lost your certificate of vaccination, you will need a blood test to confirm you are immune to measles and rubella.

All non-immune adults should be given the catch-up vaccine, especially the "at-risk" group between the ages of 23 to 40.

All health care workers require written evidence of a blood test confirming immunity.

You should not become pregnant for 3 months after the MMR as this is a live virus vaccine.

Influenza

Health care workers are encouraged to have annual Influenza vaccines, available each year in March.

This is partly to protect staff but also to reduce the risk of outbreaks in hospitals and nursing homes.

Chickenpox

If you have not had the disease previously, you need a blood test to check if you are immune.

If you are not immune you should consider vaccination (2 injections, 6 weeks apart).

The vaccines (Varilrix, Varivax) are live virus vaccines.

Chickenpox in adults causes a more severe illness and more scarring than in children.

Chickenpox vaccine is especially recommended for all non-immune people in high-risk occupations such as health care workers, teachers and workers in child-care services.

If you are not immune you should not look after patients with Chickenpox or shingles.

Routine Childhood Immunisation Schedule

Current routine childhood immunisation schedule includes:

  • four doses of Diphtheria/Tetanus/Whooping cough and Polio vaccine;
  • a Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis booster at age 15;
  • a MMR immunisation at 12 months and 4 years;
  • a Hepatitis B immunizations at birth and 2, 4 and 6 months;
  • Pneumococcus at 2, 4 and 6 months;
  • Haemophilus Influenzae and 2, 4, and 6 months;
  • Varicella at 18 months;
  • Meningitis (C strain) at 12 months; and
  • Rotavirus at 2 and 4 months of age.

See the latest Fact Sheet for Parents

Travelling overseas - what vaccinations are necessary?

If you are planning to travel, start thinking about recommended immunisations aimed at disease prevention specific to the areas you are intending to visit. Some schedules require a course of vaccinations over a period of weeks to months, so it is important to seek advice early, and not leave it to the the day before departure to organise your immunisations.

UC students and staff can make an appointment at the University Medical Centre for travel vaccinations. Vaccinations for travel are available from the University Medical Centre at very competitive rates for all UC students.

Smartraveller and Travel Doctor are some of the good fact-based websites with plenty of information regarding vaccines and general travel health and safety.

Whilst websites can be very useful, it is still essential to seek advice from either the University Medical Centre, your usual GP, or a travel medicine clinic so that you have the most up-to-date information on how to keep healthly while travelling abroad.

Vaccinations are not the only way to protect yourself from disease - careful attention also needs to be paid to the selection of food and drinks - "WASH IT, PEEL IT, OR COOK IT" is a useful rule of thumb.

When travelling to areas with Malaria and other mosquito borne diseases, you need to take precautions to protect yourself from being bitten. Such measures include selection of clothing (type and colour), to be worn and when (day or night), use of mosquito repellents and barriers (eg. nets) and avoidance of perfumes/aftershaves etc.


Disclaimer: The above information is for information purposes only, and is not designed to replace medical or counselling services. If you need further assistance or information, please contact the University Medical and Counselling Service on (02) 6201 2351.