What You Need To Know About Travel Vaccinations
You’ll find that you won’t need vaccinations to safely travel in some parts of the world, but in many you do. With a glut of information on the Internet, where can you turn? Here’s our guide to safeguarding your health before you travel.
So, you’re going overseas? Maybe you’re a seasoned adventurer, maybe it’s your first time, or maybe it will be your first time to a new part of the world? Either way, it’s important to be up to date with any potential health risks specific to your intended destination.
You’ll find that you won’t need any medications or vaccinations to safely travel in some parts of the world, but in many you do. In some cases failing to get properly vaccinated can even lead to problems with returning home after your holiday.
With a glut of information on the Internet, where can you turn? A good place to start is with the Australian Government’s Department of Health website and Smart Traveller, which provides updated information about current viral threats. Smart Traveller also includes information about potential threats and hazards in each country outside of just medical concerns.
The next step is to book an appointment with your doctor for a check-up and for their advice on how to best protect your health during your travels. Do this well before you leave as Travel Clinics Australia recommends a check up six weeks prior to your departure. This is the most important thing that we can say about travel health (hey, they have medical degrees and we’re just a travel guide).
Better still you can go to a certified travel clinic, such as those listed on Travel Clinics Australia or The Travel Doctor websites. Unlike usual medical practices, these travel doctors are geared specifically toward the needs of people who are travelling overseas. They’ll have the latest details and warnings regarding any potential risks, including ongoing risks like Malaria in tropical parts of the world, and alerts concerning new health risks, such as outbreaks of the Zika Virus in South America. They’ll help you plan everything that you need to do to best avoid any potential health risks.
Travel clinics will usually stock every vaccination and medication that travellers need onsite, which is not always the case with GPs, and this will save you time and money.
It’s a good idea to have your basic itinerary sorted before you visit a clinic. Your doctor will need to know the countries you will be visiting, the length of your stay in each country, the time of year, the types of accommodation you will be staying in (for example in hotels, hostels, or camping) and finally the type of travel (are you backpacking or will you be on a bus tour?).
The importance of vaccinations varies depending on where you are going. Some vaccinations might merely be a routine health precaution or they could be considered necessary to protect you from diseases you might encounter. Some countries legally require proof of vaccination before allowing entry.
It’s important to remember that some vaccinations require a course of multiple treatments over a period of weeks or even months, so make sure to begin this process at least 6 – 8 weeks before departure.
It’s possible you might need prescription medication for where you are going. The risk of Malaria is high in many parts of the world but that risk is easily negated with one of several different medications. If you are going anywhere particularly mountainous you might also want to ask your doctor about medication for altitude sickness. Some gastro medications will also require a doctor’s prescription.
If you are already on prescribed medications, make sure your medication is up to date and that you have enough to last the duration of your travels before you leave. If you’ll be away for an extended period try investigating the costs and processes for obtaining what you need before you leave.
Water purification tablets are also a must for disinfecting water in countries where water quality is dubious or uncertain.
Make sure you pack a small medical kit – Travel Clinics Australia already sells ready-made personal first aid kits. These kits are affordable, lightweight and, more importantly, easy to pack with you. You can also buy kits from your travel doctor.
Finally, don’t leave home without travel insurance! You’ll be thankful when you wind up in the emergency room of a foreign country.