The Importance and Benefits of Assessing the Immune status of Employees

Janine Malcolm 1, Maree Sommerville 1, David Isaacs 1

Mercy Health, Werribee, VIC, Australia


It is important to maintain a database of employee immune status for vaccine preventable diseases (VPD). Many facilities request information from new staff on commencement of employment however it is important to have processes in place to assess the status of current employees.

An employee health nurse was engaged for the purpose of establishing a program for two acute facilities with over three thousand employees. The brief was to review the information collected from new employees, identify gaps in their immune status and to recommend and provide vaccination as required. This person was also tasked with assessing the immune status of current employees. A risk assessment was conducted and a five year plan was developed, with staff in high risk areas assigned a high priority for review.

This program has encountered many challenges to ensure staff are assessed in a timely manner, and that those requiring booster doses are followed up. Test results have shown that for VPDs such as measles, mumps and varicella, up to 10 percent of staff demonstrated low to nil levels of immunity, whilst around 20 percent of staff did not have adequate immunity to hepatitis b. Screening for tuberculosis is also included in this program with some surprising results.

Establishing a comprehensive program of assessment, review and vaccination catch up is important not only for the individual’s own health but can assist a facility to have immediate access to information, if inadvertent, exposure to a VPD such as measles has occurred.

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