Your health and wellbeing should be your top priority when planning an overseas holiday, especially if you want to enjoy your trip to the fullest.
Some international travel destinations come with much higher health risks than others. However, no matter where you're headed, it's always a good idea to seek advice from an experienced medical practitioner well in advance of your departure date.
We interviewed Dr Joe Pollak from the Travel Vaccinations Clinic and asked for his advice on how travellers should prepare for a safe and healthy trip overseas.
Dr Joe's Top 5 Tips for Safe Travel:
- Get vaccinated early.
- Eat properly cooked through food and drink bottled water only.
- Take a prescribed Medical Kit with you.
- Get Insect Repellent spray with 20-50% DEET e.g. RID or Bushman’s.
- Get your travel insurance including medical evacuation cover.
What is a specialised travel vaccination clinic?
A travel vaccination clinic is different to a normal GP or doctor. As the name suggests, they specialise in providing health advice and travel vaccinations to travellers.
Medical practitioners at the travel vaccination clinic will be familiar with the potential health risks at your travel destination. They can make informed suggestions based on your medical history, the duration of your trip and the season of travel.
The clinic has the facilities to help ensure that your trip is enjoyable and free of adverse health concerns, including a stock of vaccinations so you can get them all done in the one appointment.
Interview with Dr Joe Pollak
Where are the most popular travel destinations which require vaccinations?
- South America
- Bali, Indonesia
Regardless of where you are going, what are the basic vaccinations you should have before travelling outside of Australia?
General recommended vaccinations include Hepatitis A and Typhoid Fever which are food and water vaccines.
Others may be relevant once the doctor sees you and discusses your specific itinerary, the duration of your stay, the intended activities as well as your past medical and vaccination history and any current medication.
Where are people travelling that you hold the most concern travellers don’t have the right vaccinations?
Vietnam, Bali and Thailand are popular destinations for luxury resort holidays.
When booking into a 5 star resort it still carries risks as if you were staying within a backpacker’s hostel. Most illnesses contracted in developing countries are not discriminating. All travellers may be affected.
Food and water vaccines such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid Fever are strongly recommended.
How far out from their departure should people contact the Travel Vaccination Clinic to give them time to get all their vaccinations?
Four to six weeks before travel is generally recommended to get your travel vaccinations.
However, if you are going on a last-minute trip do not hesitate to get vaccinations and medical advice before you go.
Believe it or not we have had some patients check in on route to the airport!
What diseases are a current concern that travellers should be particularly aware of?
The Zika Virus has been a common concern with recent media attention. There is no vaccination available for the Zika Virus however there are ways to protect yourself so it’s always best to book in to discuss your itinerary to get specific medical advice on how to keep safe. We also recommend travellers to use insect repellent spray with no more than 20-50% DEET e.g. RID or Bushman’s which you can buy at most chemists.
Yellow Fever is a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes. The World Health Organisation monitors reports of Yellow Fever and it is considered an epidemic in 29 African and 13 Central and South American Countries. Travellers that are 9 months and older are required to provide an International Vaccination Certificate before arriving into Australia if they have been to a Yellow Fever Declared Country. Yellow Fever is a live vaccine and only some Doctors are registered with NSW Health Department to administer this vaccine.
Why should travellers visit a Travel Vaccination Clinic instead of their GP?
At the Travel Vaccination Clinic, we have the vaccinations and medical kits in stock immediately available on site therefore everything you need is given within your appointment. The Travel Vaccination Clinic has travel medicine to meet every person’s individual itinerary.
Most travel vaccines are temperature sensitive for their effectiveness. For this reason, we maintain in house supply with strict temperature control of vaccines to ensure their efficacy.
What should a traveller do if they experience side effects from a vaccination?
Go to your nearest hospital straight away or call our clinic if geographically more convenient.
What's a common cause of illness overseas?
Not infrequently travellers to developing countries that stay in high end hotels and encounter illness from simply having ice in their drinks (including cocktails!).
Ice is made from local tap water and some organisms survive below on zero or below zero degree temperatures.
What suggestions do you have for those who can’t have vaccinations?
It’s always best to see your doctor for medical advice to learn other ways to keep safe and healthy on your travels if you're unable to have the recommended vaccinations.
What should a traveller do if they don’t have a vaccination and then become ill?
Attend the nearest hospital for assessment and management.
It's important to get the right health advice before you travel, and take any possible precautions to ensure you stay safe and healthy overseas. However, remember that not all diseases and illnesses are preventable by vaccines.
Malaria and dengue fever are common in many international destinations. Minimise your exposure risk by taking steps to protect yourself from mosquitoes and ask your doctor about anti-malarial prescription medications.
It's also recommended that travellers make sure they're up-to-date with routine immunisations like tetanus, diphtheria, whooping cough and measles.
For more information and advice, organise an appointment with Dr Pollak and the team at the Travel Vaccination Clinic.