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Immunisation policy to protect patients and staff

Monday, 9 October 2017

Patients and health workers will be better protected against preventable illnesses under a SA Health immunisation policy released today.

Staff who work with patients, or blood and other body fluids, will be required to know their immune status against chickenpox (varicella), whooping cough (pertussis), hepatitis B, measles, mumps and rubella.

SA Health’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Paddy Phillips said this meant health workers treating especially vulnerable patients such as young babies and the elderly would be much less likely to contract or spread illness.

“Immunisation is one of the most effective strategies to protect the community against a range of infectious diseases,” Professor Phillips said.

“This policy will help protect those people – staff and patients alike – who cannot be vaccinated because they have certain medical conditions, severe allergies, are immunosuppressed or are too young to have some vaccines.

“Previously we were working to vaccination guidelines, however by moving to an SA Health-wide policy, we’re strengthening our fight to prevent vaccine preventable illnesses.”

Professor Phillips said the new policy will be phased in over the coming four years, and cover chickenpox (varicella), whooping cough (pertussis), hepatitis B, measles, mumps and rubella, plus hepatitis A for some health workers.

“During the early stages, we will be focussing on staff working in ‘higher risk’ areas; those who work with patients, or blood and other bodily fluids will be required to know if they are immune to the infections covered by the policy,” Professor Phillips said.

“In the event of an outbreak of one of these infections, staff who are not immune can be quickly identified to prevent ongoing spread of infection.

“This follows similar policies introduced in New South Wales and Western Australia and more recently in Queensland.”

A full copy of the policy is available on the SA Health website www.sahealth.sa.gov.au

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