Frequently Asked Questions

Medical Queries

Could my child have sepsis?

Knowing if your child has sepsis is tricky because many of the initial symptoms are like those we see in common mild infections. The difference with sepsis is that your child will become more severely ill: the symptoms listed below can be a sign that more severe disease is present.

  • fast breathing or long pauses in breathing
  • very blotchy, blue or pale skin
  • a lot of pain oe very restless
  • fit or convulsion
  • floppy
  • drowsy or difficult to wake up or confusion
  • rash that doesn’t fade when presed (glass test)
  • feels abnormally cold to touch

Any ONE of these may mean your child is critically unwell. Come to hospital straight away – DON’T DELAY.  Ambulance – call 000 – if severely unwell.

Please click on the link to read the fact sheet

Do I need additional antibiotic coverage for dental procedures?

Dental procedures do not require additional antibiotic coverage unless you have an underlying medical condition apart from a non-functioning spleen. Your dentist is able to prescribe an antibiotic if the need arises.

When Should I call an Ambulance?

People sometimes hesitate to call because they are not sure if the situation qualifies as an emergency. A medical emergency, calling for an ambulance could mean the difference between life and death.

Some symptoms for a person with sepsis, that occur very quickly are: shortness of breath, paleness, high fever, not speaking properly, severe headache, exhaustion – these signs are of someone gravely ill.

The department of health has a useful fact sheet to help answer this question. If in doubt, always call triple zero (000). The call takers are trained to help and will direct you to the appropriate resources.

Please click this link to read the fact sheet.

Queries about Shingles

What is Shingles?

Shingles (herpes zoster) is a viral infection that causes a painful, blistering rash. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Please click this link for more information on chickenpox. You can only get shingles if you have had chickenpox in the past.

Is the Shingles vaccine recommended for someone who doesn’t have a functioning spleen?

The Current recommendation from the Australian Immunisation Handbook is that:

Zoster vaccines (Shingrix) are recommended for:

  • people aged ≥50 years who are immunocompetent
  • people aged ≥18 years who are immunocompromised
  • people aged ≥50 years who are household contacts of a person who is immunocompromised

From November 1st 2023 there is one vaccine to prevent shingles (herpes zoster) available as part of the National Immunisation Program. Shingrix is a 2-dose course and is available FREE for:

  • Adults aged 65 years and older.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and over, and
  • Immunocompromised people aged 18 years and over with the following medical conditions:
    • haemopoietic stem cell transplant
    • solid organ transplant
    • haematological malignancy (blood cancer
    • advanced or untreated HIV.

Shingrix is a non-live vaccine and is safe for use in both immunocompetent and immunocompromised people. Shingrix is also available on a private prescription for:

  • Adults aged from 50 years
  • Adults aged from 18 years who are at increased risk of herpes zoster

***If you have had Zostavax and paid for it privately, you can still receive Shingrix for free under the NIP after waiting 12 months. But if you have had a FREE Zostvax then you must wait 5 years to get a free Shingrix

Click this link for more information.

When should I see my doctor?

  • If you are feeling unwell and have a high temperature, fever, sweats, chills or exhaustion, you should see your GP as soon as possible. These are signs of a bacterial infection. If you cannot see your GP within a couple of hours, you should go to the local hospital.
  • You should also see your GP for booster vaccinations.

General Queries

How secure is the Spleen Australia service’s database?

  • VERY! The Spleen Australia team with Monash University complies with current recommendations for database security. We implement a defence in depth approach to information security and employ a multitude of controls to protect our infrastructure and data. All staff have password protected passwords and use an authenticator to access patient data. These controls are regularly audited to ensure they meet global best practices and are aligned with ISO 27001 security practices. Data collected will be stored on Monash University managed secure and resilient infrastructure located in Australia that complies with all applicable data protection and privacy legislation.

How does the service work?

  • You are responsible for your ongoing health after a splenectomy or after a diagnosis of hyposplenism. We will assist you in this aspect of your health. Once registered, you will receive an education kit that includes an individualised treatment plan You will also receive health updates and information on any changes to our recommendations
  • You or your GP can review our annually revised medical recommendations, as available on the Spleen Australia website
  • Spleen Australia offers telephone support regarding this health issue. If you are unwell or need any medical advice, you should see your GP as soon as possible
  • To ensure you continue receiving our health updates and other important information, please let us know if your contact details change
  • We aim to be a “one stop shop” where we impart knowledge and information via the website and our educational materials

What does this service provide?

  1. An education kit with information on the best way to manage this aspect of your health
  2. A telephone education session with a registered nurse
  3. Telephone support to ask any questions about this aspect of your health
    a. Victorians, Tasmanians and Western Australians call (03) 9076 3828
    b. Queenslanders call 1800 SPLEEN (775336)

What information do I need to have when I register?

  1. Dates and diagnosis of your spleen condition are necessary
  2. Names and addresses of your doctor(s)
  3. All patients are advised, if possible, to have a copy of their immunisation history. This is available from your GP. Alternatively, you can have your GP fax your immunisation history to (03) 9076 7946, attention Spleen Australia

How can I register with Spleen Australia?

Spleen Australia is funded by the Departments of Health of Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland and Western Australia. If you live in one of these states, or if you have had treatment for your spleen condition in one of these states, you are eligible to register with the service.

A patient can register themselves, or their healthcare provider can complete the registration for their patient. A parent/guardian for someone under the age of 18, as well as someone lacking the ability to consent, can also complete the registration. The online link to register via the website can be accessed here


  • Victorians, Tasmanians, Queenslanders and Western Australians download a registration form here

Do I have to register with this service?

We understand that not everyone is happy to have their personal information recorded in a database (registry), so NO, you do not have to register.

If a medical provider has registered you, they will have asked you if you are happy to register.

If you decide that you wish to be removed from Spleen Australia’s database, at any time, please contact us. However we will no longer be able to support you through Spleen Australia.

What exactly do you want me to do?

Allow Spleen Australia to document information relevant to your spleen condition.

In addition, there may also be the opportunity to take part in future research projects. At some stage, a research project may be developed and you will have the opportunity to participate, should you wish. In this instance, we will send a letter inviting you to participate. If you decide that you do not wish to take part in a research project, we assure you that your medical treatment will not be affected in any way. Please contact the manager of the service, Penelope Jones, if you do not wish to be involved in any research. Please call (03) 9076 3828 or if you are in Queensland call 1800 SPLEEN (775336).

What about my privacy?

  • All patient information will be kept confidential and stored on servers at The Alfred Hospital and Monash University’s Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine. After details have been entered on the database, and a unique identification number will be allocated to each person’s record. This number will provide anonymity.
  • Spleen Australia intends to use information provided to the registry for audit or research purposes. All research activities require ethics committee approval. We will not identify you in any presentations or publications without your permission. If you do not want your information to be used in research, please contact Penelope Jones, the manager of Spleen Australia, on (03) 9076 3828 or if you are in Queensland call 1800 SPLEEN (775336).
  • Spleen Australia staff and the members of the Spleen Australia Steering Committee are the only people who will have access to this data.

How did you get my name?

If you live in Victoria, Tasmania or Queensland, a medical practitioner who has treated you may have registered you with Spleen Australia.

Who do I contact if I have any questions?

The team of nurses at Spleen Australia are available to answer any questions you or your medical practitioner may have.

See contact us page for more information.

Who do I contact if I have a complaint?

If at any time you have any concerns and wish to communicate these to staff other than Spleen Australia staff, please contact:

Patient Liaison Office
The Alfred Hospital
Preferred form of contact is via email:
Ph: 03 9076 8001