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Category Health and Safety
Type Policy
Approved by Vice-Chancellor, 24 November 2014
Date Policy Took Effect 24 November 2014
Last approved revision 24 February 2023
Sponsor Human Resources Director
Responsible officer Director, Health, Safety and Wellbeing


The purpose of this policy is to provide a safe work place for staff whose work activities include potential exposure to occupational infections where effective immunization vaccines are available.

Organisational scope

This policy applies to all University of Otago staff at all work locations.


Biological pathogen
An infectious agent or hazardous biological material that presents a risk or potential risk to the health of humans, animals or the environment.
Occupational Health Records System
IT management system for Occupational Health clinical notes and records.
Occupational infections
Identified potential or actual biological pathogens that are a potential source of infection due to work activities.
The administration of antigenic material (a vaccine) to stimulate an individual's immune system to develop immunity to a pathogen.
University of Otago online health and safety management system.


1. Potential exposure

The potential for exposure to biological pathogens associated with the work task/environment is to be clearly identified in the hazard/risk register within Vault.

2. Vaccination requirements

  1. Where effective immunisation vaccinations are available for potential work-related biological pathogen exposure, these will be required before the commencement of work.  Vaccination is offered as a reasonably practical step under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.
  2. New biological pathogens requiring vaccination, such as COVID‑19, will be managed according to national Ministry of Health Guidelines, and a suitable risk assessment conducted to identify areas of high risk where vaccination may be required, or highly recommended.

3. Biological pathogens training programme

Where biological pathogen exposure risks are identified, workers will undertake a formal training programme including the following:

  • Description of the hazard/risk.
  • Method of transmission.
  • Controls to prevent transmission.
  • Specifics of immunisation vaccination including reliability, side effects, test, and vaccination procedure.
  • Process of consent.
  • Privacy and holding of records.
  • Options for individuals who choose not to be vaccinated or cannot be immunised.

4. Employee consent

  1. A completed consent form is required prior to any vaccination.
  2. Individuals are not obliged to accept the University's offer of vaccination. Where an employee chooses not to have the vaccination, an alternative hazard/risk exposure assessment with control methods must be considered to minimise the risk of exposure. Refusal to accept the vaccination will be recorded by the Occupational Health team in the occupational health recording system.

5. Immunisation status and records

  1. The immunisation status of employees will be assessed, and vaccination offered according to the level of risk associated with the work tasks and work environment.
  2. Records of vaccination and immunisation status must be maintained on the Employee's occupational health file.
  3. Where a risk assessment identifies vaccination as a preferred control in relation to the person's position, this will be recorded in Vault with the vaccination status recorded as yes or no.

6. Cost of vaccination

Costs associated with vaccinations required under this policy for staff will be borne by the University.

Related policies, procedures and forms

Contact for further information

If you have any queries regarding the content of this policy or need further clarification, contact:

Director, Health, Safety and Wellbeing

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