6 things you need to know about travel vaccinations
Vaccines are the only reliable way to protect yourself from a number of diseases you’ll encounter around the world. Here’s what you need to know before you go.
1. Do your research
Every region of the world is different so you need to find out exactly what vaccinations or medication you’ll require for your destination. The Smarttraveller website has a list of reputable clinics that will be able to tell you what you need. Tell them your full itinerary so they can give you the best advice. Your GP may be able to give you the vaccinations but it’s best to check with a travel vaccination expert. You can also look at the website for the World Health Organisation or US Centre for Disease Control to keep up to date with any outbreaks happening around the world.
2. Plan ahead
Some vaccinations need to be given up to two months before you travel and others require a course of shots over subsequent weeks. Some anti-malarial tablets also require you to start taking them one to two weeks before you travel. Don’t leave your health check until the last minute or you might not be able to get covered.
3. Check your records
Most New Zealanders have had a full schedule of vaccinations starting from childhood. Get your doctor to look at your records and see what you are already up to date with. Then there’s no need to get expensive vaccinations that you don’t actually need. You also need to tell your doctor if you have any health problems that could have an impact on your vaccinations, such as any immuno-compromising illnesses.
4. Get the proof
Some countries may require proof that you have been vaccinated against a specific infectious disease. For example, yellow fever is a serious problem in many African countries and you may not be able to cross the border into a non-affected country if you don’t have proof of vaccination.
5. Don’t be blasé
Vaccinations do not provide a 100% guarantee that you won’t contract a disease, so you still need to take reasonable precautions. Avoid mosquito bites by wearing long sleeves, using mosquito nets and applying a DEET-based repellent. Drink bottled water where necessary and be wary of ice or salads washed in tap water.
6. Take a medical kit
If you’re going really far off the beaten track, you don’t know what supplies will be available. Take a basic kit of your own with sterile bandages, needles, antiseptic, antibiotics, painkillers and antihistamines. That way you can treat yourself quickly for any minor problems that arise.
Have you ever been sick overseas? And do you make sure you get properly vaccinated before you go abroad? Let us know in the comments below.