COVID-19 and placement requirements - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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COVID-19 and placement requirements

5 Aug 2021

The current lockdown and previous COVID-19 restrictions have had an impact on learning and placement for many of you. Another impact is the requirements for COVID-19 vaccination for certain students on placement.

Due to the nature of the placement environment, students in some settings face a higher risk of COVID infection and illness compared to the general population. As such, they may also, unwittingly, be responsible for transmitting the virus to the vulnerable people in their care. Placements may have requirements that reflect either legislation or placement partner conditions. As a result of the pandemic, requirements relating to COVID-19 vaccination have changed for some facilities and may change again in the future.

Students undertaking placement in clinical facilities have been prioritised to receive a COVID-19 vaccine (category 1B) in Australia's COVID-19 Vaccine Roadmap, a crucial part of Australia's response to the pandemic.

The National Cabinet agreed in June 2021 that COVID-19 vaccinations would be mandated for residential aged care workers to protect vulnerable people in aged care. This means that COVID-19 vaccination will be a mandatory requirement for students undertaking placement in aged care facilities, and students who may visit or attend an aged care facility while on placement. In accordance with this, students must have had at least the first dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine before 16 September 2021 for all placements in residential aged care.

We support your right to make an informed choice regarding COVID-19 vaccination. However, as an education provider, USC does not have the authority to waive the requirements set out by a facility hosting a student for placement, or by the Queensland or Federal Governments.

Please make sure you regularly check any mandatory requirements for your program in USC's online placement system, SONIA, and your USC student email for updates and timelines for vaccination.

It is important to note that if, and when, similar changes are implemented for other clinical facilities (e.g. hospitals, medical centres, disability accommodation services and correctional centres), COVID-19 vaccination will be a mandatory requirement for students undertaking placement in those facilities. Unvaccinated students would then be unable to undertake a placement in these facilities. In this situation, we cannot guarantee suitable alternative placements will be available, and this may impact your progression and graduation, and indeed your future employment.

Accordingly, we encourage you to have the full COVID-19 vaccination course as scheduled, unless medically contraindicated, as this will minimise potential future disruption to your progression in your studies, as well as maximise your employment opportunities after graduation. The Australian Government has committed to making the COVID-19 vaccination available to all persons living in Australia free of charge. First, ensure that your Medicare details are up to date, then visit the Australian Government's eligibility checker to book an appointment to receive your COVID-19 vaccination.

Ensure you obtain written evidence of your completed course of vaccination and upload this, or your digital COVID-19 vaccination evidence into your SONIA portal. If you have been vaccinated with either one or both doses, please upload this information to your SONIA Checks immediately. Your vaccination status will enable the Placement Office to determine your eligibility for placement, according to the requirements of each placement host organisation.

If you are unable to be vaccinated due to medical reasons, please obtain a letter from your doctor which indicates the reason for medical contraindication and upload to SONIA.

While you may not currently need to undertake an aged care placement, you should consider this information, along with the possibility that COVID-19 vaccination could become a mandatory requirement for your program in the future if directed by the Government. USC does not have the authority to waive the requirements set out by a facility hosting a student for placement, or by the Queensland or Federal Governments.

If you have concerns about continuing in your current program given this information, please contact Student Central who can refer you to the appropriate team to discuss alternative study options relevant to your personal situation.

We acknowledge the uncertainty that COVID-19 and lockdown brings can be distressing. So, please remember to be kind to yourself and others and act with professionalism when liaising with USC staff. If you are feeling overwhelmed, please ensure you take advantage of the support services available to you at USC should you need.

In the meantime, if you do have any questions or concerns, please feel free to email me directly via

Please stay safe and look after yourself.

Kind regards,

Prof Denise Wood AM
Pro Vice-Chancellor (Students)