education.vic.gov.au

Policy

The purpose of this policy is to inform schools about their student immunisation responsibilities and exclusion processes during an infectious disease outbreak.

Summary

  • Primary responsibility for the prevention and control of infectious diseases lies with individuals, families and public health authorities.
  • Schools must request that parents/carers of primary school students provide them with an immunisation history statement and must record information about the immunisation status of each student on CASES21.
  • Schools must follow exclusion requirements and procedures as set out in this policy.
  • Secondary schools are encouraged to adopt strategies which actively support their school’s vaccine program.

Details

While responsibility for the prevention and control of infectious diseases lies primarily with individuals, families and public health authorities; schools also have an important role to play.

Primary students

Schools are required to:

  • request that parents of primary school students provide them with an immunisation history statement for their child from the Australian Immunisation Register
  • maintain records of all immunisation history statements
  • record information regarding the immunisation status of each enrolled child on CASES21.

Note: Prior to commencing primary school, children should have received their childhood vaccinations as per the National Immunisation Program ScheduleExternal Link .

All students

Schools are required to:

  • follow the exclusion requirements set out in this policy, as required
  • support the prevention and control of transmission of infectious diseases by:
    • supporting immunisation programs
    • providing prompt and consistent responses to detected or suspected cases of disease.

Note: Schools are not expected to give expert advice or treat students – this is the role of medical practitioners and health authorities, as appropriate.

School responsibilities – exclusion processes

The information below details the exclusion processes for primary and secondary students.

Primary students – exclusion process

As set out in the Public Health and Wellbeing Regulations 2019 (Vic)External Link principals of primary school-aged students must not allow a child to attend school if:

  • they have been informed that the child is infected with an infectious disease, confirmed by a medical practitioner, that requires exclusion as described in the Department of Health School exclusion tableExternal Link
  • they have been informed that a child has been in contact with a person with an infectious disease as described in the school exclusion table
  • during an outbreak, the Chief Health Officer directs a primary school to exclude a child based on material risk of a child contracting a vaccine-preventable disease (that is, a child who is not immunised to be excluded until advised attendance can be resumed).

Secondary students – exclusion process

Secondary schools should follow standard precautions to prevent spread of infectious disease, including hygiene practices, ensuring unwell students do not attend school, are sent home if unwell, and encouraged to seek medical attention.

Secondary schools are not bound by the requirements in the school exclusion table, as these apply to primary schools. However, secondary schools are encouraged to follow the same guidance to ensure the safety of their students.

In the event of a public health risk, such as an infectious disease outbreak, secondary schools may be required under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 (Vic)External Link to comply with the directions of the Chief Health Officer or an authorised officer.

Supporting the Victorian Secondary School Immunisation Program

Secondary schools play an important role in supporting immunisation by forming an effective relationship with their local council and ensuring effective facilitation of their school's immunisation program.

In particular, schools are encouraged to:

  • appoint a school immunisation coordinator to manage the school's immunisation program
  • ensure the school immunisation coordinator liaises with the local council immunisation officer in the local municipality
  • support the distribution and collection of all vaccine consent forms and obtain completed forms from parents and guardians
  • make use of immunisation resources available from the Department of Health (Secondary School Immunisation ProgramExternal Link ) and your local council to assist with communication to students, parents, teachers and the wider school community about school-aged vaccines
  • ensure appropriate resources and environments are available for the program to run smoothly.

For information on the current schedule of vaccines delivered as part of the Secondary School Immunisation Program, visit the National Immunisation Program ScheduleExternal Link .

Secondary School Immunisation Program

Schools are legally authorised to share parent and student contact details with local council for the purpose of immunisation.

The vaccines offered in secondary schools include:

  • human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in Year 7 (2 doses spaced a minimum of 6 months apart)
  • diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis (whooping cough) vaccine in Year 7 (one dose)
  • meningococcal A,C,W,Y vaccine in Year 10 (one dose).

Refer to your school's implementation kit for further information, or visit Secondary School Immunisation ProgramExternal Link .

COVID-19 vaccines

Vaccination remains the best way to protect students and staff in school settings against COVID-19. Families and students are strongly recommended to keep up to date with all recommended and available COVID-19 vaccinations.

Communication resources for schools to share with the community, parents and carers are available in the Resources tab.

For up to date information about COVID-19 vaccines for children and young people, visit the Victorian Government COVID-19 websiteExternal Link .

Definitions

Vaccination
Vaccination means having a vaccine – that is, receiving an injection or receiving a vaccine orally.

Immunisation
Immunisation means both receiving a vaccine and becoming immune to a disease as a result of being vaccinated.

Exclusion
The period of time for which a student is required to not attend school.

Relevant legislation

Department policy on student immunisation and exclusion processes

Reviewed 14 December 2022

Policy last updated

14 December 2022

Scope

  • Schools

Contact

Wellbeing, Health and Engagement Division

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