TRAVEL VACCINE GUIDE - IT'S BETTER TO BE PROTECTED
Many of you may think, Do I really need travel vaccinations?
If it's been advised to do so when heading to certain countries, you've been told to by a doctor or there's a current outbreak in your planned destination, then Yes!
Around 8 weeks before your travel date, you will need to start researching and find out which kind of Travel Vaccines are advised for each country you're planning on visiting.
The reasons you have to be so organised are because some vaccinations have to be done weeks apart; enough time has to be left for you to be scheduled in for your appointments and a certain amount of time needs to pass before the vaccine begins to work.
Be aware that you will have to pay for at least quite a few of them which can add up to be very pricey so you need to take this into consideration when you're saving and planning your trip. It would be wise to compare different clinics by checking what they would charge for the vaccinations that you must pay for. Don't let the money put you off booking the appointment, its up to YOU to do the research and see your doctor. It's better to be protected. And once you've had them done, you probably won't have to worry about them for years.
Check out Travel Health Pro for loads of information and to look up any country of choice. https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries
TALK TO A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL
First things first, you need to make an appointment with your doctor or at a health clinic. I can't give you medical advice, I can only help as much as I can. A medical professional will be able to look up your vaccine history and health conditions. They will ask the important and appropriate questions about your upcoming trip. You need to tell them where you're all planning on going, planning on doing and how long for. They can inform you if there is a current outbreak and if you will be at risk of any diseases.
WHAT YOU NEED TO THINK ABOUT + DISCUSS
While planning your travel vaccinations, you will need to discuss with your doctor and compare notes about the following. These factors need to be taken into consideration to conclude which travel vaccines you should get.
WHERE YOU'RE GOING Virus outbreaks and risks are more common in certain parts of the world and differ from place to place. You need to research each destination you're going to and inform your doctor on this information. I always check the country profile on TravelPro when planning to visit somewhere new!
HOW LONG YOU WILL BE SPENDING THERE Basically the level of risk is decreased if you're somewhere for a shorter period of time. A two week holiday at a resort is a lot different to a three month trekking trip. Inform your doctor.
I've stayed in the jungles of Borneo
IF YOU WILL BE VISITING RURAL AREAS
You will be more at risk of infection if you're staying in rural areas. If you're planning on spending a lot of time outdoors, camping, jungle trekking, staying in rustic villages -- off the beaten track -- then you may have more of a chance of becoming infected.
LEVEL OF RISK
There may be a current outbreak going on in the country that you need to be aware of. The time of year can also affect the level of risk. Research and discuss with your doctor.
YOUR MEDICAL + HEALTH CONDITIONS
Your current health status, allergies, medical history could all have an affect on which vaccinations you will be advised to or not get.
During my travels, I've encountered and came into contact with a lot of wild and stray animals. I've been chased often but never bitten or scratched (touch wood). I've been lucky but it does happen. If you know you're going to have contact with wild or stray animals then you need to inform your doctor! Rabies is deadly.
Trekking through very rural areas in Myanmar
WHAT YOU MAY HAVE TO BE VACCINATED AGAINST
YELLOW FEVER This is a mosquito-borne illness most commonly found in Africa and South America. Some countries in these continents require evidence that you have had the Yellow Fever Vaccine before entry. Other parts of the world will also ask for evidence if you have visited or passed through infected areas recently. Check the WHO list for the countries which hold a risk of infection and the ones that require proof of vaccination. http://www.who.int/ith/ith-yellow-fever-annex1.pdf?ua=1 Your proof that you must carry with you will be in the form of a yellow certificate (ICVP) which is given to you at the time of the jab and will be dated, stamped, hold your personal details and state you've been vaccinated for Yellow Fever. Once you've had the vaccine, you won't require a booster for at least 10 years.
HEPATITIS A The hepatitis A virus is spread by the faeces of someone infected and can be caught by consuming contaminated food/water. So vaccination is especially advised in areas of poor food hygiene and sanitation. High risk areas are most commonly found in developing countries including in Central and South America, Africa, the Indian Sub-Continent, the Far East and Middle East. Some time after you've received the first vaccination, you can choose to have the booster which means you will be protected for about 20 years.
HEPATITIS B This disease is directly spread by blood and body fluids from those infected. Hepatitis B is found worldwide but most commonly in Africa, the Middle East, parts of Europe and the East and South East of Asia. The vaccination is usually given in a course of three injections that you will have to have done during separate appointments.
TYPHOID Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection which is usually caught by consuming contaminated food and water. It's common in developing countries so travellers should be aware if you're planning on staying and working with local people or staying in areas with poor hygiene. High risk places include South America, Africa, South and South East Asia and the Indian Sub-Continent.
DIPHTHERIA, POLIO + TETANUS There is a 3 in 1 combined vaccination available to fight against diphtheria, polio and tetanus. It's usually offered and given in secondary school so you need to check with your doctor to make sure you're up to date with it if you're planning on visiting areas where the vaccine has been advised.
TUBERCULOSIS (TB) TB is a bacterial disease which is caught by inhaling infected germs through the air such as a sneeze, cough or spit by someone with it. It's most commonly found in Africa, South East Asia, China, the Indian Sub-Continent, Russia and South America.
JAPANESE ENCEPHALITIS This virus in spread by mosquitoes and most common in rural areas of high risk places. It's particularly rife during rainy season. It's found throughout countries in parts of Asia including all of South East Asia. The vaccination is given in a course of two injections, the second has to be given 28 days after the first.
CHOLERA This is an infection caught by consuming unsafe water which can cause severe diarrhoea and dehydration. It's most commonly found in areas of the world with poor sanitation and water hygiene. High risk areas include Africa, the Middle East, Central America, the Caribbean and South and South East Asia.
RABIES This is a viral disease that is caught from a bite or scratch from an infected animal. Even after you've been vaccinated for Rabies, you still have to seek urgent medical attention if you have been bitten or scratched in a country that's high risk. On your travels, you will be most likely come into contact with rabies from a stray dog. if you're bitten or scratched, you should get it seen to immediately, rabies can be fatal. The vaccination is given in a course of three injections that usually has to be done over 28 days. This is SOME of the nasty illnesses you could catch. Remember, you need to do your own research and speak to your doctor to see what you should be vaccinated for.
Rainy Season in High Risk Rural Areas means a lot more Mosquitoes!
This is a serious mosquito-borne disease that could be fatal and can be transmitted by as little as one infected mosquito bite.
Malaria is found in tropical parts of the world. High risk areas include large parts of Africa, parts of Asia, parts of Central and South America.
If there is a current outbreak in the country you're planning on visiting, you need to see your doctor to discuss Malaria prevention. There is currently no injection as such but rather a course of anti-malarial tablets. Your doctor needs to advise which tablets will work best for you as there are different types. Usually you have to take them before your trip, during your trip while in a high risk area then for a period of time once you've returned.
Anti-malarial tablets can cause some unpleasant side affects so you must only take them if you're advised to. If you choose not to take them because of this, you must be careful and try to prevent mosquito bites as much as you can.
DENGUE FEVER + ZIKA VIRUS
Other diseases to be extra aware of are Dengue and Zika. There is currently no vaccine for either of them so trying to prevent mosquito bites in high risk areas is vital for your travels! I hear about dengue fever a lot on the road and it can be caught often by backpackers. The symptoms are usually flu-like and include high fever, muscle and joint pains, sever headache, skin rash and vomiting. I've heard it really takes it out of you so be careful! Dengue is most commonly found in parts of South East Asia, Africa, the Indian Sub-Continent, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands and South and Central America.
Zika Virus is dangerous for pregnant women because there's evidence it causes birth defects. Pregnant women are advised to not travel to moderate and high risk areas. High risk areas are mainly in Central and South America.
HOW TO PREVENT MOSQUITO BITES
You're going to get mosquito bites on your travels -- they're annoying, very itchy and leave unwanted red bumps. Try not to scratch them as this can leave scars or they could become infected. To relieve the discomfort, I swear by tiger balm!
The following are ways to prevent mosquito bites as much as you can:
Insect Repellent I buy insect repellent wipes, they're easy to apply by just using a couple to rub all over the parts of skin that will be shown. Repellent that includes DEET is usually most effective! There's a lot of natural products available if you would feel safer using that on your skin!
Long Sleeves / Trousers I know you won't want to wear them on your travels where it's hot and sticky but you should really consider wearing thin clothes that cover your skin when you're hiking, camping and spending time in rural areas. You're clothes can be sprayed with repellent too!
Protect Yourself while you Sleep Use air-conditioning when you have it and keep all windows and doors closed. This will keep your room cool, safe and sealed from mosquitoes. In rooms without air-con, use window and door screens while in the room and a mosquito net while you're in bed. Keep the air circulating by using the fan and when you can, keep your fan close to you while you sleep as this will blow any mosquitoes away that are trying to come near you.
Avoid Dusk + Dawn This is easier said than done on your travels but depending on which place you're in, that's usually when mosquitoes are most in the air!
Use Anti-Mosquito Coils, Plug-ins and Candles These are easily picked up on the road or often found in guesthouses, restaurants and bars. The coils are especially handy for under the table when sitting a while as you're feet, ankles and legs can be attacked.
HOW MUCH DO VACCINATIONS COST?
2018 The following is United Kingdom based information from the NHS and could be different at the time of appointment.
DIPHTHERIA, POLIO + TETANUS (Combined Injection)
CHOLERA The above are currently ALL FREE on the NHS (UK) YELLOW FEVER: £60-80
HEPATITIS B: Around £50 per dose (three injections)
JAPANESE ENCEPHALITIS: Around £90 per dose (two injections)
RABIES: Around £50+ per dose (three injections)
What I did was got any free travel vaccinations from the NHS then headed to a private clinic to get the rest that were advised. They didn't differ in price too much from the NHS and I found it was easier to get an appointment and schedule my vaccinations around my trip.
Travel Vaccinations are sadly expensive. Ultimately the choice is yours to get them or not but it's better to be protected.