We all get excited at the prospect of traveling to exotic news places in Asia, Africa or South America to discover new and exciting places, people and cultures. However, most of these regions are hotspots for infectious diseases like malaria, yellow fever, typhoid, Hepatitis B, Rabies and more. Having the right travel vaccinations for your trip is essential to stay protected through out your stay.
In the article, we look at questions like what travel vaccine is and how does it function? Also when should you get travel health advice. We also look at the significance of travel vaccines and places that offer travel vaccinations near you. We can't cover everything here but what you can do is to get in touch with your local travel clinic for expert travel health advice tailored to your particular trip.
A vaccine is a form of medicine that gives body active immunity against a specific disease. It is normally injected into the body. Vaccines provide a boost to the body's natural defence mechanism against infectious diseases. Vaccines help in preventing a disease rather than curing one that has already infected the body. The vaccines that help in providing protection against certain diseases found while traveling abroad are called travel vaccines.
Travel Vaccination is simply the administration of travel vaccines.
Vaccines are like immune system training by stimulating the immune system to produce antibodies. The antibodies prepare the body for disease fighting without exposing it to symptoms of disease.
This Short animation video by oxford vaccine group illustrates how vaccines work.
You may need vaccines before you travel depending on your destination, your medical history, your planned activities, time of the year and other health concerns. Your local travel health professional at Chana Chemist will be able to provide with the right advice or you can go on getjab.co.uk or NHS fit for travel website.
You can check your local travel clinics here
Your local options could be your local Pharmacy or your GP. The difference between the two will mostly be the fact that your local GP will need you to make an appointment many days in advance and also may not have a wide range of vaccines available. Whereas your local pharmacy will be able to see you straight away without any need for appointments and may also be offering a wider range of travel vaccinations. That means you may be able to get all the required vaccinations for your trip from one place.
You should start seeking travel health advice some good few months before your travel date. Reason being that vaccines need time to become effective and help your body develop the required immunity. Also some vaccines need to be given in multiple doses spread over a number of weeks. For example, Rabies vaccine need a whole month to complete the course.
Firstly, although the routine NHS immunisation schedule provide protection against some diseases, it does not provide protection from infectious diseases common in other parts of the world like yellow fever, hepatitis B etc. Having the right travel vaccinations will help you to stay safe from those diseases while abroad.
The other reason is your travel insurance policy requires you to have the required inoculations before traveling. So not have the right travel vaccinations can leave you seriously exposed.
It depends on the vaccine. Some vaccines provide immunity for several years and some provide cover for life. If you're traveling abroad, you should see a travel health professional who is familiar with travel medicine to talk about your upcoming trip. He or she will be able to advise you on whether or not you would need a booster based on your travel health history. You can read more about how long different vaccines last on Tropical Medical Bureau website .
Are there any side effects of vaccination?
Most side effects from vaccination are mild and short-lived.
It's quite common to have redness or swelling around the injection site, but this soon goes away.
In much rarer cases, some people have an allergic reaction soon after a vaccination.
This is usually a rash or itching that affects part or all of the body. The pharmacists, GPs and nurses who give the vaccine are trained in how to treat this.
Some countries require you to have proof of particular vaccinations before they allow entry.
Saudi Arabia requires proof of vaccination against certain types of meningitis for visitors arriving for the Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages.
Yellow fever vaccines are only available from designated centres and must be documented on an International Certificate of Vaccination.
Even if a certificate is not required, it is a good idea to keep a record of your travel vaccinations with you while traveling abroad.
Malaria is a life threatening disease transmitted by mosquitos found in certain parts of the world.
As a preventative measure, Antimalarials are tablets taken before traveling to help reduce the risk of malaria.
Below is short video by Valneva showing ABCD approach to malaria prevention.
Yellow Fever is caused by mosquito bites and it is a viral infection.
Yellow fever vaccination provides immunity but it needs to be given atleast 10 days before traveling. It is given in injection form in the upper arm. The vaccine lasts for life time.
Hepatitis A infects human liver and is caused by virus. It spreads through poo of infected human being. It is common in regions of the world where sanitation facilities are poor.
Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for travellers to provide immunity for Hepatitis A disease.
Recommended vaccines for Thailand include Hepatitis A, Tetanus and possibly yellow fever.
Hepatitis A: It is a liver infection which is spread through contaminated water and food. Hepatitis A vaccine is injected in one go.
Tetanus: This is caused when wounds, cuts and burns get contaminated. It is given in 5 injection doses. Afterwards, A booster is enough if you haven’t had one in ten years.
Yellow Fever: This is caused by mosquito bite. Certificate is required if you are entering from a yellow fever country or even if have transited through the airport of such country (for 12 hours plus)
If you are going for Hajj or Umrah, A conjugate ACW135 meningococcal vaccine should have been administered not more than five years and not less than 10 days prior to entry in to Saudi Arabia. You need a certificate to prove that you have valid vaccination.
Try to wear long sleeve clothing and trousers to stay safe from mosquito bites. Also use insect repellent on exposed areas of the body and at night make sure to sleep under mosquito net. In short, prepare a Travel Health Essentials Kit.
You should start your antimalarials treatment before traveling to any country with risk of malaria.
Also follow best hygiene practices even so more when abroad.
University Pharmacy situated within the university of Sussex campus in Falmer, Brighton, will be offering travel vaccinations from mid September 2019.