Dr Deb - The Travel Doctor

About The Q Fever Vaccine

There is an effective vaccine against Q fever. This is normally only given to adults but can occasionally be warranted in persons under 15 years of age if they are at high risk of the disease.  The vaccine has more side effects in persons who have already had the disease Q fever or even the vaccination, so testing is necessary before vaccination is given.

Before vaccination, a person must have three things:

  • A blood test
  • A skin test
  • A detailed history

These tests are undertaken to help avoid unwanted vaccine side effects. If one of the tests is positive, it means the subject would probably react badly to the vaccine.

Blood test and skin test need to be done on the SAME DAY. Then the person needs to return to the same doctor 7 days later to have the skin test read.

If both tests are negative, the person is vaccinated. It then takes about 2 weeks for the vaccine to become effective. This means persons vaccinated should not put themselves at risk ( e.g. visit abattoir) for 2 weeks after vaccination.

Each individual would discuss their particular situation at the time of screening. The vaccination is effective, and lasts for life.

We recommend persons who have the vaccine opt to be placed on the Q Fever Register. This register holds a copy of all the Q Fever vaccination records of those who wish to be included. All persons on the register will receive a card documenting their Q Fever status. This card is often requested before entering workplaces where there is a risk of Q Fever.

Side Effects Of Vaccine

Up to half of those vaccinated will have a sore arm for a few days

About one in ten will develop general symptoms such as headache, fever, chills and minor sweating.

A strange effect that is quite rare occurs in some persons who had very little effect immediately after vaccination. They notice the injections site becomes hard and tender 1 – 8 months after the vaccination. The site of the original skin test may also become positive. The lumps gradually shrink and disappear without treatment. This is more common in women, and is a result of a late developing immune response.

If there is any doubt about side effects, contact the doctor who gave you the vaccine.

Where To Get The Vaccine?

Not all doctors can give Q fever vaccination as it requires specialised expertise and complicated pre-vaccination screening. Group vaccination is advisable to keep costs down.

What if someone has Q fever vaccine more than once?

  • The effect is unpredictable, but some people will get a hypersensitivity reaction to the second dose of the vaccine which may cause severe swelling, redness or even ulceration at the injection site, and/or they may be sick from the reaction as the person’s immune system attacks the vaccine very vigorously.


Costs of Q Fever protection

The approximate cost for blood and skin testing, medical consultations and vaccine is about $380-$420 over two visits.

The Consultation to have a Q fever vaccine is not covered by medicare if you have a job where you will be at risk of Q fever ( “employed in an industrial undertaking and that service is rendered for the purposes related to the operation of the undertaking”).

More info re medicare eligibility

Medicare benefits are not payable where:
(a) the service is rendered by or on behalf of, or under an arrangement with the Australian Government, a State or Territory, a local government body or an authority established under Commonwealth, State or Territory law;
(b) the medical expenses are incurred by the employer of the person to whom the service is rendered;
(c) the person to whom the service is rendered is employed in an industrial undertaking and that service is rendered for the purposes related to the operation of the undertaking; or
(d) the service is a health screening service.
(e) the service is a pre-employment screening service