Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine Student Health Policy

College of Veterinary Medicine
Admin Document #16
Updated May 1, 2024 by Senior Leadership Team

This policy is for all students enrolled in the Veterinary Nursing Program and the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Degree Program. Students in graduate degree programs with a risk of exposure to rabies, or educational programs leading to certification in any academic department of the College of Veterinary Medicine, are required to follow this health policy unless they are employed within the College of Veterinary Medicine. If employed in any capacity, the College's occupational health program will have precedence. Visiting students who receive occasional instruction (e.g., service courses) in the veterinary medical facilities are subject to these requirements.

Assumption of Risk

The College of Veterinary Medicine collaborates with Purdue University safety policies and procedures to minimize the risk of all members of the Purdue community. All students in the College of Veterinary Medicine encounter animals which may cause traumatic injury and/or expose them to infectious agents which cause disease. They will also be exposed to ionizing radiation, volatile anesthetic gases, and chemical substances which can cause bodily harm. In accepting admission, students voluntarily accept these risks and assume the responsibility to act safely and responsibly at all times. 

Students may experience personal health conditions that result in a need for academic accommodations. The Purdue University Disability Resource Center (DRC) is the designated university office responsible for assessing and assisting with planning for educational needs. The College of Veterinary Medicine welcomes collaboration with the DRC to support students, and asks students with concerns to contact the DRC and PVM’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and the Assistant Dean for Clinical Education to initiate the process. 

Pregnancy is a medical condition for which there are definite health concerns, and it is wise for a pregnant student to obtain additional information from her physician about these risks as soon as possible after the onset of pregnancy. The College of Veterinary Medicine is committed to supporting pregnant students in their academic careers. When pregnancy is identified, students (Veterinary Medical or Veterinary Nursing) are invited and encouraged to discuss needs for scheduling adjustments with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs or the Assistant Dean for Clinical Education. In addition, the student should refer to additional resources available on PVMConnect.

The College of Veterinary Medicine will work within reasonable constraints to revise the student’s schedule in order to mitigate the risk of exposure to harmful agents for the mother and fetus, but individual courses and clinical rotations are offered only during a predetermined sequence and that sequence will not be altered. There may be required procedures in clinical and laboratory areas which the student chooses to delay until after delivery. Whenever possible, these required procedures will be made up in a time and manner agreeable to both the student and the faculty. These accommodations will most likely increase the time to degree completion and incur greater cost to the student.

People who experience medical conditions that compromise the immune system can also be at higher risk in a veterinary medical setting. Immunocompromised persons are at greater risk for contracting infections both from animal patients and the people in the workplace. Immunocompromised persons are advised to consult with their physician regarding their risks in the veterinary workplace. They are invited and encouraged to discuss their concerns and needs for scheduling adjustments or for personal protective equipment (PPE) with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs or the Assistant Dean for Clinical Education. Should accommodations be needed, the student will be referred to the Purdue University Disability Resource Center. Additional information about working in the veterinary field while living with an immune system challenge is available on PVMConnect.

Rabies Immunization

The student health guidelines regarding rabies prophylaxis for veterinary professionals are consistent with the 2022 updated Center for Disease Control’s guidelines on rabies prophylaxis for persons in the risk category 3 group. The rabies immunization series is required of all students.

For the College of Veterinary Medicine, all DVM and VN students are required to have one of the following:

  • >2 doses, days 0 and 7, plus:
  • Either a one-time titer check after 3 years following the first 2-dose vaccination

OR

  • 1-dose booster between 3 weeks and 3 years following the first vaccine in the 2-dose vaccination
    • DVM students are required to complete the first two doses of rabies vaccinations prior to the October break of their first year and a titer or 1-dose booster prior to entering the 4th year of the DVM program.
    • VN students are required to complete the first two-doses of their rabies vaccination at least two-weeks prior to the clinical phase of their program. VN students are recommended to have a 1-dose booster or titer completed at 3 years from their initial series.

The College recommends providing a titer check or one-dose booster at 3 years following the initial series for all students to provide evidence of sustained immunity that is necessary for the remaining year(s) of either program.

If the student has had documented 2 or 3 dose series and is unsure about the accuracy of timing of previous immunizations, a rabies titer can be performed. If the titer reveals inadequate immunity, a single booster immunization for rabies is recommended by the ACIP (Adult Committee on Immunizations Practices). If the titer reveals adequate immunity, no further immunization is necessary.

 The veterinary nursing accrediting body, the Committee on Veterinary Technician Education and Activities (CVTEA), requires that all students in accredited veterinary technology/nursing programs be vaccinated against rabies.

The veterinary nursing program is required by the accrediting body to implement a mitigation plan for veterinary nursing students who are unable to complete the rabies vaccination series.  This mitigation plan is attached in Appendix A.  In brief, unvaccinated students are limited to contact only with animals that are fully vaccinated against rabies.  The accrediting body requires stringent documentation of animal exposures during the unvaccinated student's education. 

Tetanus Immunization

Most students will have received tetanus vaccination as a child and subsequently received one or more boosters. If the student has never received tetanus vaccination, a series of three tetanus vaccinations must be obtained. If they had the initial series, but the last booster was received more than ten years prior to the beginning of October Break of the year of matriculation, an updated tetanus immunization is required. Immunization with either diphtheria-tetanus toxoid or TdaP (tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis) is acceptable.

Tuberculosis

Students who have not had a test for tuberculosis within one year of the beginning of October Break of the year of matriculation will be required to receive a tuberculosis test. Both the PPD skin test and the interferon gamma release assay (blood test) are acceptable. If the test is positive, evaluation by a medical clinician and medical clearance for continued enrollment in the College of Veterinary Medicine must be obtained.

Exception

Section VIII of the Indiana State Board of Health Regulation HCD-33, issued May 11, 1977, shall apply to this program. It provides that any person may refuse immunization, medical treatment, or hospitalization when they “….rely in good faith upon spiritual means or prayer to prevent or cure disease or suffering ….” Students who rely on spiritual means and who choose not to be vaccinated may sign a waiver. Any person may be quarantined and certain cultures and medical tests may be required of any person to determine eligibility for release from a quarantine.

Cost and Expense of Program

  • The College of Veterinary Medicine shall bear all costs related to distribution of information, provision of forms, scheduling of major immunization programs with the Purdue University Student Health Center (clinical partners), and maintenance of student records.
  • The student shall bear all costs incurred for immunizations, tests, and evaluation by a medical clinician.

Other Health Services

  • Students must meet all University immunization requirements https://www.purdue.edu/push/immunization/index.html
  • It is required that each student be covered by a health insurance policy. Health insurance for students is available through Purdue University. Students bear financial responsibility for their personal health care expenses, and health insurance coverage helps prevent personal exposure to catastrophic health care expenses.
  • For all injuries and/or illnesses not referenced above, the student will have the same rights and obligations as those of all students at Purdue University.

Program Orientation

  • Students shall be provided with a copy of this document prior to
  • Students may obtain the required immunizations and tests through their personal physician prior to matriculation.
  • At matriculation, students will receive the “Acknowledgement of Policy, Risks and Health Insurance Requirement” form, and complete the Purdue University Student Health Center online immunization record.
  • Following matriculation, students are eligible to receive any needed vaccinations, tuberculosis test(s), or other necessary testing through the Purdue University Student Health Center and Purdue University Pharmacy. Students may elect to use the services of a private physician for these services and simply provide documentation of immunizations and test results to Purdue University Student Health.
  • A signed statement rejecting vaccinations for religious reasons will negate the requirement for immunization and serve as This would be submitted to the PVM Office of Student Services.
  • Students will be required to sign attestation to having personal health/medical insurance at the beginning of each academic year.
  • The “Student Health Policy Compliance Statement” should be signed and returned to the PVM Office of Student Services by the beginning of October Break of the year of matriculation and for DVM students prior to the start of their clinical year. It will be made a part of the student record and retained with the academic records following
  • Matriculated students who do not obtain the required immunizations and tests (or file an exception on the basis of religion) by the beginning of October Break of the year of matriculation shall have their university record encumbered and will not be allowed to register for further classes until resolved.