Principles for managing staff immune status
Develop policies for the assessment, screening and vaccination of healthcare workers to minimise the risk of transmission of vaccine-preventable diseases. Policies must align with relevant state and territory policies and/or legislation. Policies also apply to trainees undertaking placements in the practice, work experience students and volunteers.
Education could be provided to non-clinical staff members to support the vaccination policy.
Staff members’ privacy must be respected. Staff members with chronic viral infections such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or HIV are not required to disclose their status unless they are still infectious or perform procedures that carry the risk of blood-borne transmission.1
For each relevant vaccine-preventable disease, the practice must record each staff member’s immune status, but need not record whether immunity was achieved through vaccination or naturally through a previous infection. Staff members who do not wish to provide details of vaccinations or infections and do not participate in the practice’s immunisation activity can opt to obtain a letter from their own chosen healthcare provider stating that they are immune. Vaccine refusal or non-disclosure must be recorded in the staff member’s human resource documentation.
Safe Work Australia provides useful information regarding situations where staff refuse vaccination, however, they reiterate that these situations are often intricate, and that legal advice is always recommended. Seek legal advice from a Medical Defence Organisation regarding the management of vaccine refusal.