When considering what you need to do to protect you and your families health when you are on holiday can seem like a chore. This simple guide will help you with all you need to know about the basics of travel health vaccinations.
At first, it is important to look at the three W's: Where? When? and What?
Where are you travelling to?
When, what time of year and how soon?
What are the risks on this trip?
A printed copy from your GP of all your previous vaccines is a good place to start. It is important that all your childhood vaccines are up to date including you Tetanus/Diptheria/Polio and your Measles/mumps and Rubella. Your GP should be happy to give this to you if you pop in and see them.
Have you had travel vaccinations before?
Next is to see whether you have ever had any vaccines for travel before? The immune system is very clever and although it may seem like a very long time ago that you had them, some vaccines may still be in date or last a lifetime.
Then we need to look at risks for the country you are visiting. It is possible for you to do a little research for yourself and a very good website to use is www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk. This website will give a breakdown of all the risks associated with the different destinations around the world.
Finally it is important to take all this information and tailor it to your individual trip and previous medical history.
Common travel vaccines
The travel vaccinations that are most often considered for a trip are Hepatitis A and Typhoid. These are both caught through dirty food and water and although there are many diseases that can be caught this way these two are easily vaccine-preventable.
Two other risks that are found worldwide are Hepatitis B and Rabies. Hepatitis B is caught through blood, blood products and bodily fluids and although it is also found in this country your risk can be considerably higher abroad. Rabies is caught through any infected mammal bite, scratch or even a lick on a cut. The animal doesn't have to look sick to be infected and with the disease being almost 100% fatal it's an important one to at least know how to protect yourself.
Finally, there are country or more area specific vaccine-preventable disease to consider such as Yellow Fever caught through a day biting mosquito is large areas of Africa and South America and Japanese Encephalitis caught through a night biting mosquito found exclusively in areas of Asia. In Europe, Tick bourne Encephalitis is on the rise and definitely a risk worth considering.
Travel health at The Medical
Although all diseases are not vaccine preventable, The Medical can provide a full consultation with the travel health nurse specialist, either in person or by phone, and will provide you with all the information you need at very short notice.