Although medical students are at risk of contracting and transmitting communicable diseases, previous studies have demonstrated sub-optimal medical student immunity. The objective of this research was to determine the documented immunity of medical students at James Cook University to important vaccine-preventable diseases. An anonymous online survey was administered thrice in 2014, using questions with categories of immunity to determine documented evidence of immunity, as well as closed-ended questions about attitudes towards the importance of vaccination. Of the 1158 medical students targeted via survey, 289 responses were included in the study (response rate 25%), of which 19 (6.6%) had documented evidence of immunity to all of the vaccine-preventable diseases surveyed. Proof of immunity was 38.4% for seasonal influenza, 47.1% for pertussis, 52.2% for measles, 38.8% for varicella, 43.7% for hepatitis A, and 95.1% for hepatitis B (the only mandatory vaccination for this population). The vast majority of students agreed on the importance of vaccination for personal protection (98.3%) and patient protection (95.9%). In conclusion, medical students have sub-optimal evidence of immunity to important vaccine-preventable diseases. Student attitudes regarding the importance of occupational vaccination are inconsistent with their level of immunity. The findings of this study were used to prompt health service and educational providers to consider their duty of care to manage the serious risks posed by occupational communicable diseases.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited