Travel Vaccination Clinics
Travel Vaccination Clinics are very important and provide some protection, you should still take care with food, drink and personal hygiene.
When you have your check-up at your local surgery, it’s a good idea to review your medical history, present state of health, medications and any allergies. Keep your immunisation certificates (and list of current medication) with your passport for use during your travels and as a record for the future.
Which travel vaccination do you need?
The vaccinations you need will depend on the country you’re visiting. Your GP or practice nurse will be able to give you specific, up-to-date information on the jabs required for your particular destination.
Yellow fever is a viral disease that is caught from the bite of an infected mosquito. The disease causes liver damage and leads to jaundice, hence the “yellow” in yellow fever. Vaccination is very effective at reducing the risk of catching this disease, which can be fatal. An international certificate for yellow fever vaccination is required for travel to several countries in central and west Africa, and the northern part of South America.
The certificate comes into effect ten days after vaccination and lasts for ten years. Certificates after subsequent doses are valid immediately. Please note that in June 2016, the certificate become valid LONG-TERM and so the vaccine will not need to be repeated on a 10-yearly basis as previously.
Typhoid is caught from contaminated food, drink or water. A vaccination is recommended for all destinations apart from northern Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. The vaccines is a single shot that affords protection for 3 years.
An oral vaccine is available in the UK for travelers to endemic or epidemic areas, where the risk of cholera is greatest. In most cases, a cholera vaccination certificate is no longer required. The vaccine consists of two drinks (oral vaccination), given 1-6 weeks apart. This affords protection for 2 years.
Diphtheria is one of the childhood immunisations in the UK. There have been recent outbreaks in some parts of the world – if you’re traveling to one of these areas, a booster may be recommended.
The hepatitis A virus is present in faeces and can be spread from person to person, but it’s usually caught by consuming contaminated food or water. Those traveling to places where sanitation is poor need to be especially aware of the risk of infection.
A vaccination can help to reduce the risk, but it’s also vital to be scrupulous about personal hygiene. Be careful what you eat and drink, and wash your hands after using the toilet and before handling or eating food (including ice). Vaccination consists of two doses, the second dose being a booster, given 6-12 months after the first. This booster provides LONG-TERM immunity (at least 25 years).
Malaria is transmitted by infected mosquitoes and is common in many parts of Africa, Asia, Central and South America. If you’re visiting or traveling through a country where there’s a risk of malaria, preventative measures are essential.
Antimalarial drugs don’t prevent infection, but do inhibit the parasite’s development. In some regions, the parasite is resistant to some of the drugs used. It’s therefore essential to get up-to-date, specific advice about the best antimalarial drugs for your destination.
You should start taking the tablets one to two weeks before departure, to ensure there’s no adverse reaction and to establish an adequate level of protection before exposure. Tablets must be taken as prescribed while in the malarial zone and continued for a further four to six weeks after leaving. It’s essential to finish taking the course of tablets, as the parasite can live in the body for some time after infection.
Remember, none of these precautions gives absolute protection against malaria. It’s therefore vital to know the symptoms, so you can get prompt medical attention should any appear.
Malaria usually starts as a flu-like illness. A pattern of coldness and shivering, followed by fever (38°C/100°F or more), sweating, muscle aches and headaches must be taken seriously.
If you develop a fever or feel ill while abroad or up to eight weeks after returning, seek medical attention immediately. Tell your doctor you’ve been in a country where malaria is a health risk.
This serious infection of the liver is common in many parts of the world, especially SE Asia, where up to 10% of the local population may be carriers. It’s caught via contact with contaminated blood – including sharing needles, blood transfusions or inadequately sterilised equipment – and intimate sexual contact.
Immunisation is available, especially if they’re likely to be at increased risk through work or other activities.
Vaccination consists of 3 vaccines given over a period of time (the shortest being 3 weeks, on days 0,7 and 21).
This occurs throughout south-east Asia, mainly in rural areas and is more likely during the monsoon/rainy season. It is a mosquito-borne disease and the mosquito is a daytime biting one. The disease itself causes inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and can lead to brain damage.
A vaccine is available for those who are traveling to rural areas and those with an increased risk, for example staying more than two weeks, being rural and visiting paddy fields or rice fields, where mosquitoes like to breed.
The vaccination course involves 2 vaccines given 28 days apart, and affords protection for up to 2 years.
Meningococcal meningitis is more common in some areas of Africa and Asia than in the UK. A vaccine is available to protect against some strains (ACWY). Saudi Arabia requires all pilgrims during the Hajj to be vaccinated against meningitis ACWY and to have proof of vaccination in the form of a certificate. The vaccine affords protection for 5 years.
Vaccination against poliomyelitis is usually recommended for all destinations. In the UK, the vaccine is given as an injection and it comes as a triple vaccine with tetanus and diptheria too. Booster doses are recommended every ten years.
Rabies occurs throughout the world, with most deaths taking place in developing countries, such as those in south-east Asia. In the UK, most cases occur in quarantined animals and people infected abroad.
It’s usually contracted through being bitten or scratched by an infected mammal, such as a bat, dog, cat or fox. The incubation period is normally two to eight weeks, but can be as long as two years and as short as 1 week. A vaccine is available to inoculate travelers against rabies.
Each year, 15 MILLION people need treatment for a suspected rabid exposure (normally a bite or scratch by a dog), with around 60,000 deaths per year. SE Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America are “hot spots” for rabies exposure risk.
The difficulties in accessing post-exposure treatment (known as Human Rabies Immunoglobulin (HRIG)) has made the pre-exposure vaccination even more important. rabies is invariably FATAL, with less than 10 known survivors in history.
Vaccination consists of 3 vaccines given over 3-4 weeks, and affords protection for 5 years. the vaccine is not live and does not go “into the stomach”. This is often the most important vaccination consideration for backpackers and travelers to remote or rural parts of SE Asia, Africa and South America.
This disease is caught from the bite of an infected tick. It occurs in warm, forested parts of central and eastern Europe and Scandinavia, especially where there’s heavy undergrowth, and is more common in late spring and summer. This disease leads to an inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) and can lead to brain damage.
Those walking or camping in such areas should wear clothing that covers most of the skin and use insect repellents. A vaccine is available and consists of 2 vaccines given three weeks apart (with a third at 1 year if needed).
If you haven’t been vaccinated against TB and staying for more than a month in eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, Central or South America, you should consider a bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccination. Preferably, this should be given at least two months before departure. This vaccine is usually administered at the local NHS hospital.
Vaccination isn’t necessary for short visits if you’re staying in international-style hotels. Re-vaccination isn’t necessary for those already vaccinated against TB.