Infectious Diseases Policy and Immunisation Guidelines

Policy HR & Staff Development Infectious Diseases Policy and Immunisation Guidelines


To minimise the risk of infectious diseases in the University community and to offer appropriate guidelines for the immunisation of staff and students at risk of contracting infectious diseases.


All staff and students.

Key Objectives

Ensure staff are aware of the issues related to infectious diseases.

Provide guidelines to minimise the risk of contracting infectious diseases, and to deal with a disease if contracted.


AIDS: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

NH&MRC: National Health and Medical Research Council


James Cook University has a duty of care to provide and maintain a healthy and safe environment for all staff, students and others working at or visiting its facilities, and to minimise the risk of anyone in the University community contracting an infectious disease.

The University will support and protect from discrimination, harassment or vilification any students, staff or others who have an infectious disease.

The University will safeguard the privacy of any staff, student or other person who discloses that they have an infectious disease.

Staff and students with an infectious disease have a duty of care to minimise the risk of transmission to other members of the University community.

While the majority of occupational and educational duties within the University pose little risk of transmission, the University recognises that some staff and students are at a higher risk of contracting an infectious disease. These personnel include health care and first aid workers, cleaners, grounds staff, maintenance staff (plumbing, air conditioning system work), food handlers, staff working with young children, laboratory staff working with infectious organisms and with animals, and some field staff.

Where deemed appropriate by their supervisors, higher-risk staff will be offered the relevant vaccination at the University's expense. Staff not wishing to be vaccinated for personal or other reasons must sign a form stating that they understand why vaccination is being offered, and the potential health effects of being exposed to body fluids or infectious organisms.

It is the responsibility of supervisors to ensure that all practicable steps are taken to ensure those at risk are protected. It is also the responsibility of each employee to maintain a high standard of work practice in this regard. It is expected that staff, students or others exposed to any risk of an infectious disease will follow the procedures of the University's Workplace Health and Safety Manual (General) Sec: 6.7 Infection Precautions and the relevant School or unit's specialised health and safety manuals and guidelines.

The University will promote informed awareness, tolerance and understanding by students, staff and others of the issues and concerns in relation to infectious diseases, by ensuring that information relating to infectious diseases is widely distributed and well publicised throughout the University community.

Procedures - Immunisation Guidelines

Exceptions: These procedures do not apply to staff and students within faculties or organisational units with specific infectious disease or immunisation policies.

James Cook University staff and students may be involved in teaching or research activities that bring them into contact with infectious organisms responsible for diseases for which vaccines are available. Staff and students in other high-risk courses or those carrying out projects with a high risk are encouraged to be immunised where appropriate, using as a guideline the current edition of the NH&MRC The Australian Immunisation Handbook, which can be accessed at Persons undertaking high risk activities shall be provided with information or biosafety training commensurate with the activity and the relevant safe practices, standards and guidelines.

High risk activities include:

  • Handling of human blood and blood products

  • Handling of human faeces or intestinal contents

  • Handling of infectious organisms associated with human disease

  • Exposure to patients excreting organisms likely to infect the staff and students

  • Exposure to ruminant foetuses, placentae or uterine contents

  • Exposure to wild caught or infected biting arthropods

  • Exposure to wildlife especially bats

  • Travel to locations where there is a high risk of infections

  • Grounds and cleaning duties which could result in accidental needle stick injury

  • Maintenance of sewage facilities

High-risk groups include:

  • Academic and technical staff, and students in Medicine, Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Occupational Therapy, Sports and Exercise Science, Child-Care, Early Childhood Education, Psychology, and Biological Sciences.

  • Academic, technical, and research staff and graduate students whose research project includes a high-risk activity.

  • Cleaning and maintenance staff who may come into contact with human bodily fluids directly or via accidental needlestick injury.

  • First Aid officers

Appropriate vaccines may include:

  • Tetanus

  • Hepatitis A

  • Hepatitis B

  • BCG (Tuberculosis)

  • Q Fever

Baseline antibody samples

Blood samples to determine baseline antibody levels are normally only collected on the recommendation of a supervisor or Biosafety Officer for teaching staff, or persons involved in research projects, where there is a specific risk to address. The form Agreement and Authorisation for Baseline Antibody Levels Blood Samples (Appendix 1) shall be completed. Blood samples will be taken at UNIHEALTH, collected and securely stored by TROPBIO Pty.Ltd. Access to the samples will only be with the written authority of the person’s medical practitioner. The storage of baseline serum samples will incur a cost which will be borne by the Academic Unit. The serum will be separated from the blood sample, transferred to a suitable container, labelled and stored in a locked receptacle by TROPBIO. The data will be entered into a TROPBIO database for future reference. The serum samples will be stored for the duration of the research project. At the end of this period the samples will be destroyed by TROPBIO.

Additional diagnostic tests

Staff and students who are likely to come to contact with Mycobacterium tuberculosis or patients who may be excreting Mycobacterium tuberculosis are required to undergo testing using the tuberculin test. The results of the test will be supplied to the student and the student will be advised on the appropriate course of action which needs to be taken. The tuberculin test results will remain confidential. However, if the student chooses to inform the Biosafety Officer of the results they will be recorded for future reference.


Vaccination will be recommended based on the results of serological testing, other diagnostic tests, or on the basis of a risk assessment.


All staff and students undertaking field trips are encouraged to be vaccinated for tetanus or where a recent booster vaccination has been applied the student will be asked to supply details of the vaccination.

Hepatitis A

All staff and students exposed to human faeces or intestinal contents, especially child-care workers and plumbing maintenance staff, are advised to undergo a course vaccination for hepatitis A unless the serological results suggest that the person already has a sufficiently high titre to provide a protective immunity.

Hepatitis B

All staff and students exposed to human blood or human blood products, or risk-assessed duties are advised to undergo a course of vaccination for hepatitis B unless the serological results suggest that the person already has a sufficiently high titre to provide a protective immunity. (Following vaccination it is recommended that a second serum sample the collected and tested to confirm that seroconversion has taken place).

Q Fever

Staff and students exposed to ruminant foetuses, placentae or uterine contents may be infected with Q fever. The risk of infection will be discussed with the staff or students and where appropriate vaccination will be recommended.


Staff and students who were likely to be exposed to the organism Mycobacterium tuberculosis or patients infected with tuberculosis as part of their teaching or research activities will be advised to undergo testing and on the results of the testing will be advised to seek vaccination with BCG vaccine on the basis of the test results and risk assessment.

Other vaccines

Specific research projects might place a student at risk of becoming infected with organisms for which a vaccine is available. These may include organisms such as rabies, Japanese encephalitis and yellow fever. A full risk assessment will be carried out and vaccination recommended where appropriate.

Field trips and overseas activities

It is recommended that field and practice manuals contain comments on immunisation consistent with the University's Infectious Diseases Policy and Immunisation Guidelines. Staff and students undertaking overseas trips should consult their physician.

Costs of vaccination, testing and sample storage

Costs for the collection and storage of baseline serum samples will be borne by the Academic Unit in which the postgraduate student is enrolled. Where immunisation is required the cost of vaccination will be borne by the student. Wherever possible the cost of vaccination will be kept as a low as possible. It is recommended that most vaccinations be carried out by the UNIHEALTH or a practice which bulk bills in order to keep the cost of the vaccination to a minimum.

Staff may be vaccinated by the Government Medical Officer. Arrangements for the vaccination of groups of staff can be made by liaising with the JCU Workplace Health and Safety Coordinator.

Research staff or students who are required to undergo vaccination with a vaccine which is particularly expensive may discuss the funding of the vaccination with the supervisor.

Related documents, legislation or JCU Statutes

Work Health and Safety Act 2011

Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011

Anti-Discrimination Act 1991

IS42 Information Privacy

AIDS Policy

Faculty of Medicine, Health and Molecular Sciences Infectious Diseases Policy

Discrimination and Harassment: Policy and Procedure

Privacy Policy

Workplace Bullying and Intimidation Policy

Biosafety Advisory Committee – Policy & terms of reference

The Australian Immunisation Handbook (NH&MRC)

Immunisation Refusal Form

Agreement and Authorisation for Baseline Antibody Levels Blood Sample

Approval Details

Policy sponsor:

Director, Human Resources Management

Approval authority:

Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University Services & Registrar

Version no:


Date for next review:


Modification History

Version no.

Approval date

Implementation date





There are no related procedures.

There are no other related documents.