School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Are you up to date with your vaccines? UNSW students are taking part in Australia’s first student “serosurvey”

prize winners serosurvey

Three lucky UNSW students have taken the prize draw for their participation in Australia’s first serosurvey.  Winners (pictured), Alexis (B Engineering/B Science) took home the 2016 first prize of a MacBook Air and Marsya (Master of Commerce) and Quenstance (Bachelor of Actuarial Studies / Bachelor of Commerce) took home the runners up prizes of an iPad mini.

Recruitment continues till the end of Semester 2, 2017. So far 554 students have taken part in the survey, donating a sample of blood to be tested for immunity to 6 diseases. The next prizes for 2017 participants will be drawn at the end of Semester 2.

The winners took part as they wanted to know which diseases they were protected against. Alexis took part in the study because “I thought it would be interesting to know about what level of immunity I had, and thought why not give it a go and help local research. After getting the results back it was discovered that some vaccines I had when I was a child had not taken, and so went to my doctor and had booster shots for them, new serology shows that I am now fully protected.”

More than a third of measles cases reported in Australia are in young adults, including university students, who either travelled overseas or were in contact with an infected traveller. Most travel from Australia is to destinations with higher rates of preventable diseases but few travellers visit their GPs before they go. For many vaccine-preventable diseases, young adults, including Australian and international students, may be at risk during travel. Lead investigator, Dr Anita Heywood says that “travelling overseas, even travelling home during university holidays, is exciting and getting up to date with your vaccines can be an expensive addition to your trip costs. Examining the travel practices of young Australians and their level of immunity to travel diseases will help us tailor future travel health information specific to university students, particularly where there are gaps in the student population’s immunity.”


Researchers at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine and the UNSW Health Clinic are conducting a study on university student immunity to vaccine-preventable diseases, vaccination and travel health. It includes an antibody test that will provide students with information on their immunity to measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox (varicella), hepatitis A and hepatitis B so they can make informed choices about which vaccines they need. The combined data will become Australia’s first university student serosurvey to better understand the risk of disease outbreaks on campus and prioritising immunisation services for students.

Click on the link to take part: https://sphcm.med.unsw.edu.au/research/infectious-diseases/travel-study

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School of Public Health and Community Medicine