VACCINATIONS AND PROPHYLACTIC MEDICATION
The following information should be considered a general guide to help you to be aware of the possible diseases associated with travel abroad. However, it must not be used as a substitute for consultation with your GP or a specialist travel clinic. Further information can be obtained through the following resources:-
- Foreign and Commonwealth Office "Know Before You Go" scheme
- National Health Service "Fit For Travel" scheme
- MASTA Travel Vaccine Checker
- Nomad "Travel Health Services"
- Public health England's, National Travel Health Network and Centre
Some vaccinations require a course of multiple injections over a certain time period to be effective. You therefore ideally need to make contact with your GP or Travel Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to your departure date.
If you realise that you are later than 8 weeks before departure it is still important to make contact, make sure that you tell them when you are due to travel when you are enquiring about appointments.
Take care to visit a doctor prior to leaving your home country and inquire about your specific travel plans.
VACCINATIONS TO INQUIRE ABOUT
Routine vaccinations (Ensure that they are up to date)
- Pertussis (whooping cough)
- Haemophilus influenza type b
- Pneumococcal infection
- Meningitis C
- MMR (measles, mumps and rubella)
- Cervical cancer (HPV) vaccine
Travel Vaccinations (Enquire whether they are required for your destinations)
- Cholera vaccination – cholera is a disease that causes diarrhoea and vomiting and is usually caught through infected water.
- Diphtheria vaccination – diphtheria is a bacterial infection that mainly affects the nose and throat.
- Hepatitis A vaccination – hepatitis A is an infection that causes inflammation of the liver.
- Hepatitis B vaccination – hepatitis B is similar to hepatitis A but it is caused by a different virus.
- Japanese encephalitis vaccination –Japanese encephalitis is a disease that is spread by mosquitoes. It is usually mild but can develop into encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
- Meningococcal meningitis vaccination – meningococcal meningitis is an infection of the meninges (the protective membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord).
- Poliomyelitis (polio) vaccination – polio is a highly infectious virus that can cause flu-like symptoms and is potentially fatal.
- Rabies vaccination – rabies is an infection of the central nervous system that is passed to humans through the bite of an infected animal.
- Tetanus vaccination – tetanus is a severe but short-lived infection that is caused by bacteria.
- Tick-borne encephalitis vaccination – tick-borne encephalitis is similar to Japanese encephalitis but it is caught through the bite of an infected tick.
- Tuberculosis vaccination – tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that affects the lungs.
- Typhoid fever vaccination – typhoid fever is a potentially fatal bacterial infection that is caught through contaminated food or water.
- Yellow fever vaccination – yellow fever is a serious viral disease that is spread by mosquitoes. (you may need to show a certificate of vaccination for entry into some countries) You can check which countries the World Health Organization list as having Yellow Fever transmission risk, and those that require a certificate.
- Malaria - NOTE- There is no vaccination against Malaria. When visiting Malaria zones you may be advised to take anti-malarial medications.
Remote locations often times don't have adequate health services. Make sure you do all you can to protect yourself prior to leaving your home country.
Exactly which vaccinations you need will depend on a number of factors. Certain activities may place you at higher risk of getting some diseases. In particular, consider the following:
- The country, or countries, you are visiting. In some cases, the region of a country you are visiting will also be important.
- When you are travelling. Some diseases are more common at certain times of the year, for example during the rainy season.
- Where you are staying. In general, you will be more at risk of getting diseases in rural areas than in urban areas.
- If you are backpacking and staying in hostels, or camping, you may be more at risk than those who are staying in a hotel.
- How long you will be staying. The longer your stay, the greater your risk of being exposed to diseases.
- Your age and health. Some people may be more vulnerable to infection than others, while some vaccinations cannot be given to those with a particular medical condition.
- What you will be doing during your stay. For example, whether you will be spending a lot of time outdoors, such as trekking or working in rural areas.
- If you are working in a medical setting. For example, a doctor or nurse may require additional vaccinations.
- If you are in contact with animals, you may be more at risk of getting diseases that are spread by animals, such as rabies.
- How far you will be from medical help. For example how quickly you can get to a medical facility carrying the rabies treatment medications.
Sources of further information include:-
- The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office - https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice
- UK NHS Fit For Travel - http://www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk/home.aspx
- UK NHS Choices - http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Travel-immunisation/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- The National Travel Health Network and Centre, NaTHNaC - http://www.nathnac.org/travel/index.htm
- The UK Health Protection Agency - http://www.hpa.org.uk/HPAwebHome/
- The World Heath Organization Travel Health Advice - http://www.who.int/ith/en/