Summary

  • Immunisations help to keep you healthy at work. They also keep the people you are working with, and the wider community, healthy too. 
  • Some jobs have a higher risk of exposure to infectious diseases. If your job is one of these, it’s a good idea to check your immunisation status.
  • When you are immune to vaccine-preventable diseases, not only are you safe from infection but so are the people around you.
 

Immunisations help to keep you healthy at work. They also keep the people you are working with, and the wider community, healthy too.

Some jobs have a higher risk of exposure to infectious diseases, so read on to see if this is your job. And if it is, it’s a good idea to check your immunisation status. When you are immune to vaccine-preventable diseases, not only are you safe from infection but so are the people around you.

So what jobs are at higher risk?

Many jobs have a higher risk of exposure to infectious diseases. These jobs include:

  • carers
  • healthcare workers
  • people working with children 
  • people working with animals
  • emergency workers.

Most higher risk workplaces have an immunisation policy in place, but it is a good idea for you to have an accurate record of your vaccinations. This means you know what diseases you are protected from, and what boosters you may need before starting work. 

If you were immunised after 1996, the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register will have a record of your childhood vaccinations. If you were born before then, perhaps you or your parents have a copy of your child health record. 

If you were immunised by a GP or a local council (as a child or an adult), you could ask whether they still have records. Your workplace may also keep a record if vaccinations are organised onsite. 

Currently, there is no national register of adult vaccinations, although the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register will gradually expand to become the Australian Immunisation Register. (From November 2016, the register will capture vaccines given at all ages). 

What immunisations do you need?

Let’s look at the different immunisations that you need for some high risk jobs.

Carers

If you care for someone with developmental disabilities, you should be vaccinated for:

  • hepatitis A
  • hepatitis B
  • influenza.

If you work in a nursing home or a long-term care facility, you should be vaccinated for:

  • influenza
  • measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
  • chickenpox (varicella).

Healthcare workers

If you are a healthcare worker, you should be vaccinated for:

  • hepatitis B
  • influenza
  • MMR 
  • whooping cough (pertussis) 
  • chickenpox.

If you are a healthcare worker in a remote Aboriginal community, or if you are a healthcare worker working with Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia or Western Australia, you should also be vaccinated for:

  • hepatitis A.

And, if you are a healthcare worker who may be at risk of exposure to drug-resistant cases of tuberculosis, you should be vaccinated for:

  • BCG (bacillus calmette-guérin).

People working with children

If you work with children (for example, in a preschool or childcare centre, or as a school teacher, before and after school care worker, or youth services worker), you should be vaccinated for:

  • influenza
  • MMR
  • whooping cough
  • chickenpox.

If you work with children with intellectual disabilities, you should also be vaccinated for:

  • hepatitis A
  • hepatitis B.

People working with animals

If you are a veterinarian, veterinary student or veterinary nurse, you should be vaccinated for:

  • influenza
  • Q fever
  • rabies.

If you work as one of the following, you should be vaccinated for Q fever:

  • an agricultural college staff member or student aged over 15 who could be exposed to high-risk animals
  • an abattoir worker (excluding pig abattoirs), livestock transporter, sheep shearer, farmer (cattle, sheep, goat and dairy), worker involved in culling or processing kangaroos or camels, tanning and hide worker, livestock saleyard worker or worker handling animal products of conception
  • a wildlife or zoo worker who has contact with at-risk animals, including kangaroos and bandicoots.

If you handle bats as part of your job (for example, bat handler, bat scientist, wildlife officer or zoo curator), you should be vaccinated for:

  • rabies/lyssavirus.

If you handle poultry as part of your job (for example, poultry worker or worker involved in culling during an outbreak of avian influenza), or you are a swine industry worker, you should be vaccinated for:

  • influenza.

Emergency workers

If you are a police or emergency worker, you should be vaccinated for:

  • hepatitis B
  • influenza
  • tetanus .

If you are armed forces personnel, you should be vaccinated for:

  • hepatitis B
  • influenza
  • meningococcal
  • MMR
  • tetanus .

If you work at a detention or immigration centre, you should be vaccinated for:

  • hepatitis B
  • influenza
  • MMR
  • tetanus.

Other jobs that may be risky

Other jobs that may have a higher risk of exposure to infectious diseases include:

  • people who work with, care for or live with someone with reduced immunity
  • laboratory personnel
  • people who work with specific communities
  • sewerage workers
  • sex industry workers
  • any job where you are exposed to blood or other bodily fluids
  • people who handle human tissue at work (for example, embalmers, tattooists, body piercers, funeral workers and plumbers).

If your job is in this list, it’s a good idea to talk your GP about your immunisation status.

General workplace hygiene

Don’t forget to practice good hygiene at your workplace. This means:

  • staying home when you are not well
  • washing your hands with soap after you use the bathroom
  • turning away from people and covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing
  • keeping your workstation clean and clear of food.

Where can I get more information about immunisation?

Health professionals

Find out more about immunisation by speaking with your health professional. The best place to start is with your GP.

Online information

There is also lots of information online. If you would like to know more about immunisation, check out the Australian Government’s information on frequently asked questions, the safety of vaccines and immunisation myths

When looking for immunisation information, stick to reliable information providers, such as:

Telephone

  • In an emergency, always call triple zero (000)
  • NURSE-ON-CALL Tel. 1300 60 60 24 – for expert health information and advice (24 hours, 7 days)
  • Immunisation Program, Department of Health & Human Services, Victorian Government Tel. 1300 882 008
  • National Immunisation Information Line Tel. 1800 671 811
  • SAEFVIC Tel. 1300 882 924 – the line is attended between 10 am and 3.30 pm and you can leave a message at all other times
References
  • What are some of the myths – and facts – about vaccination?, 2013, World Health Organization. More information here.
  • Immunisation myths and realities. Responding to arguments against immunisation. A guide for providers, 5th edition, 2013, Department of Health, Australian Government. More information here.
  • The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition, 2013 (updated June 2015), Department of Health, Australian Government. More information here.
  • Immunisation schedule Victoria from June 2015, 2015, Department of Health & Human Services, Victorian Government. More information here.
  • National Immunisation Program Schedule. From 20 April 2015, Department of Health, Australian Government. More information here.
  • Pre-immunisation checklist – what to tell your doctor or nurse before immunisation, 2013, Department of Health, Victorian Government. More information here.

More information

Immunisation

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Immunisation basics

Timing and schedules

Immunisation throughout life

A-Z of immunisations and vaccines

Content Partner

This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by: Department of Health and Human Services - RHP&R - Health Protection - Communicable Disease Prevention and Control Unit

Last updated: May 2016

Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.