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Employee Immunization

To protect our employees and patients, all University of Tennessee Health Science Center faculty/staff should be evaluated to determine susceptibility to infectious diseases. Immunization and/or titers are offered for the following:

Measles (Rubeola)

Measles is a highly contagious and often serious disease. Measles infection can have serious complications such as encephalitis, meningitis, and death. If you were born on or after January 1, 1957, you should receive the vaccine. For those born before January 1, 1957, the immunization is not required.

NOTE: You do not need to be revaccinated if you can provide documentation of two live measles vaccinations after your 1st birthday at least one month apart or laboratory evidence of immunity to measles (rubeola).


Rubella is a highly contagious viral illness with symptoms very similar to rubeola but differs in the severity of symptoms and length of illness. The most serious threat of rubella is to the pregnant female who has never had rubella. If exposed to rubella, they can contract the disease which can cause serious problems for the unborn baby.

  • How do I know if I'm immune? You are considered immune if you have had a rubella vaccine. If your birth date is before January 1, 1957, you will not be required to have the immunization.
  • What if I'm not immune? If a blood test find you to be non-immune, meaning you do not have immunity to rubella, the MMR vaccine will be required.
  • What if I was born after January 1, 1957? For those born on or after this date, you will need to get the vaccine if the risk applies to you.
Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver. Hepatitis A is transmitted primarily by person-to-person contact, generally through fecal contamination and oral ingestion. Transmission is facilitated by poor personal hygiene, poor sanitation, and intimate contact.

  • Who should get the vaccine? Persons encouraged to get the vaccine are those with an occupational risk of infection; such as day care personnel, sewage workers, military personnel, and those who work with infected primates or those who work with hepatitis A in a research setting. Others include: persons with chronic liver disease, international travelers to areas of high or intermediate risk of transmission, children living in communities with high rates of hepatitis A, sexually active homosexual and bisexual men, and IV drug users.
  • How can I get the vaccine? You must schedule an appointment with the University Health Services to discuss your need for the vaccine. If your need is determined to be related to your job, UHS will administer the vaccine and charge your department. However, if your need is determined to be personal, you would be charged personnally for the vaccine.
Heptatitis B

Hepatitis B is a viral infection of the liver caused by the Hepatitis B virus.

  • How is it transmitted? Hepatitis B can be transmitted to health care workers by exposure to blood or body fluids from hepatitis B infected patients. The risk of contracting hepatitis B from a needlestick with a hepatitis B contaminated needle is 35-40%. The risk from a splash to the eyes is much less. There is no cure for hepatitis B, but the vaccine can effectively prevent hepatitis B if you are exposed to the virus.
  • Who should take the vaccine? Anyone who is at risk for contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials is strongly encouraged to receive the hepatitis B vaccine series.
    PLEASE NOTE: The US Public Health Service recommends the hepatitis B vaccine series to all health care workers.
  • How much does it cost? The hepatitis B vaccine is offered by the university to all faculty/staff who, while performing their job, could come in contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials. Your department will be charged for the vaccine.
  • How is it administered? It is given as a series of three intramuscular injections: initial, one month later and six months later. UHS uses recombiant, noninfectious hepatitis B vaccine.
  • What if I don't want to take the vaccine? Anyone at risk for exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials who does not wish to take the hepatitis B vaccine must sign a refusal statement. However, if you later decide that you want the hepatitis B vaccine, UHS will provide you the vaccine at that time at no charge. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that all persons who, while performing their job, could possibly come in contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials be offered the hepatitis B vaccine series. See
Influenza (Flu)

Influenza or flu is a viral infection of the nose, throat, bronchial tubes, and lungs that can make someone of any age ill.

  • When do you get the flu? The flu season in the United States is generally from about November through April.
  • What are the symptoms of the flu? You usually have fever, chills, cough, and soreness and aching in your back, arms, and legs.
  • How long does the flu last? Although most people are ill for only a few days, some people have a much more serious illness that could even result in a hospital visit. On average, thousands of people die each year in the United Stated from the flu or related complications.
  • Who should get a flu shot? Any one wishing to reduce their chances of catching the flu should get the vaccine. Health professionals and others in both hospital and outpatient-care settings who have contact with high-risk patients in all age groups, including children are strongly encouraged to receive the immunization.
  • Who should NOT get a flu shot? Any one with an allergy to eggs that causes dangerous reactions and anyone who has ever been paralyzed with Guillain Barre syndrome should NOT get the vaccine. Women who are or might be pregnant should consult their doctor. Persons who are ill and have fever should wait to take the shot until the fever or others symptoms are gone.
  • How often do I need a flu shot? Because the viruses that cause flu frequently change and because any immunity developed in the previous year possibly decreases, it is recommended that you receive the vaccination every year.
  • Who is eligible for the shot and how much does it cost? The flu shot is given free of charge to all UTHSC faculty/staff and students.
  • Can I get the flu from getting the shot? Since all viruses in the vaccine are killed, the vaccine cannot infect anyone.
  • How long does it take to start working? The vaccine will begin to provide protection about one to two weeks after you receive the vaccine and immunity may decrease, on average, after several months.
  • Can I still get the flu after taking the shot? Flu shots will not protect everyone from the flu. The flu shot also cannot protect you against other illnesses that resemble the flu.
  • When does UHS give the flu shots? Flu shots are given by UHS from October 1 through Janunary 15 of each year.

Rabies is a viral infection of the central nervous system. The virus is contained in the saliva and certain body materials of rabid animals and humans.

  • How do you get it? The most common way a person is exposed to rabies is through bites by rabid animals.
  • What is the Rabies vaccine? The rabies vaccine is an inactivated-virus vaccine, available in both human diploid cell vaccine and rabies vaccine absorbed. Human rabies immune globulin is used in postexposure treatment of persons not previously immunized with rabies vaccine.
  • Who needs the vaccine? All persons exposed to rabies virus, regardless of prior immunization should get the vaccine. Persons whose occupations or activities place them at increased risk of exposure include laboratory workers, forest rangers, taxidermists, veterinarians, stock breeders, hunters, and spelunkers and persons planning to be more than 30 days in an area where rabies is a constant threat should get the vaccine.
Tuberculosis (TB) Skin Test

University Health Services manages the TB Screening and Surveillance Program for the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. The program, instituted in 1992, is charged with helping to ensure that all employees and students of the UTHSC are screened annually for tuberculosis exposure. The program also stresses patient education and inter-agency cooperation to control tuberculosis.

If you are an employee of The University of Tennessee Health Science Center, you are entitled to annual screening for tuberculosis. Call 901-448-5630 for more information about the TB Screening and Surveillance Program and to set up your appointment.

UTHSC employees who are at risk for exposure to TB should be determined by their department to receive annual TB screening. Employee departments will be charged for this screening.

Varicella (chicken pox)

Chicken pox, usually a mild childhood illness caused by the varicella virus, can cause severe problems for adults who have never had chicken pox. These adults, especially pregnant women, the elderly, and immunocompromised persons, can develop serious complications, such as dehydration, pneumonia, meningitis, and even death.

  • How will I know if I'm immune? UHS will draw blood for a varicella antibody test. A positive antibody titer means you have had chicken pox and are unlikely to get it again. With a positive antibody titer, you may work with patients who have chicken pox, even if you are pregnant. 
    NOTE: You will not need this varicella blood test if you have laboratory documentation of a positive varicella titer.
  • If I had chicken pox as a child, isn't that good enough? No, you must provide documentation showing you have had a two-vaccination Varicells series (aka Var or Chicken Pox), OR you must provide documentation showing you have a positive (immune) titer. Anyone with unknown or negative history of varicella must undergo serological testing. If serology and history are negative, the vaccine is required.
  • What if I'm immune? If you are immune, no further action is needed. This result will be entered into the UHS database and the laboratory report will be filed in your permanent medical record.
  • What if I'm NOT immune? At this time you will be offered the Varivax (varicella virus vaccine) vaccination. NOTE: If you are non-immune, you must inform your supervisor and UHS of any known contact with a person who has chicken pox, whether at work or away from work. University Health will assess your exposure and determine if it is safe for you to work with patients during the incubation period for chicken pox.
  • What is the Varivax Vaccine? It is a series of two injections given one month apart of the Varicella Virus Vaccine. This is a live virus and is approximately 95% effective in preventing chicken pox.
Smallpox (or the pox virus)

Smallpox was an acute, contagious illness characterized by fever, backache, and prostration followed by the appearance of an eruption of papules and vesicles which became pustular by the eighth day.

To obtain a copy of your immunization record, please call 901.448.5630. Allow 24 to 48 hours for your records to be processed. Records can be picked up in our office or mailed out to you. If you would like your records faxed please fax a signed release to 901.448.7255.

For those at risk to exposure, the following is required for all Medical Center faculty, staff and housestaff:

  • Provide written documentation of two tuberculin skin test results during the 12 months prior to beginning practice, one of which needs to be within the past 12 months. If previous tuberculin skin test result is positive, clearance must be provided by the Memphis/Shelby County Health Dept. Thereafter, a tuberculin skin test is required annually for all negative reactors.
  • Provide proof of varicella (chickenpox) immunity via a blood titer or documentation of disease or immunization
  • If born on or after January 1, 1957, provide proof of two immunizations for measles at least one month apart or immunity via a blood titer. (Persons born before this date are considered immune to measles)
  • Provide proof of one immunization for rubella or immunity via a blood titer
  • Provide proof of one immunization for mumps or immunity via a blood titer
  • For those who may be exposed to blood, body fluid or human tissue, the Hepatitis B vaccine is strongly encouraged and provided without charge, and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)-mandated educational materials are provided. Employees those who choose to decline these services must sign a declination statement to that effect.
May 26, 2022