Travel Vaccination 101: Protecting Yourself on the Road

by Yuyu. Published on .

When planning a holiday, there are many things to consider - booking flights, finding accommodation, and creating an itinerary. However, one important aspect that should not be overlooked is travel vaccination.

Travel vaccinations are necessary to protect yourself against various illnesses that you may encounter during your trip.

In this article, we will provide you with all the information you need to know about travel vaccinations, their importance, and how to prepare for them.

A woman travelling
Photo by Timo Stern

What are Travel Vaccinations?

Travel vaccinations, also known as travel vaccines, are immunizations that are recommended or required for individuals who are traveling to certain destinations.

These vaccines help protect travelers from diseases that are prevalent in specific regions of the world. By receiving the appropriate vaccinations before your trip, you can reduce the risk of contracting and spreading diseases.

The Importance of Travel Vaccinations

Travel vaccinations are essential for several reasons.

Firstly, they protect you from potentially life-threatening diseases that may not be prevalent in your home country.

Secondly, they help prevent the spread of diseases to other individuals, both in your home country and in the country you are visiting.

Lastly, travel vaccinations provide peace of mind, allowing you to fully enjoy your trip without worrying about falling ill.

Common Travel Vaccinations Before You Fly

There are various types of travel vaccinations available, depending on the destination and the specific diseases prevalent in that region.

Some common travel vaccinations include:

Common Travel Vaccinations
VaccineDosesDuration of Protection
Influenza1 dose per season6 months to 1 year
Hepatitis A2 doses (0,6 months)10 to 20 years; no booster is recommended after completing 2 doses.
Hepatitis B3 doses (0,1,6 months)5 to 10 years; Pre-vaccination, a serology test may be done to confirm if you are still protected.
Typhoid1 dose, booster every 3 years3 years
Meningococcal B2 doses (0,6 months for healthy patients)~3 years
Meningococcal quadrivalent2 doses, (0,2 months), booster every 5 years5 years
Japanese encephalitis (imojev, live vaccine)1 dose5 years
Yellow Fever1 dose10 years
Rabies3 doses (0,7,28 days)~6 months to 2 years
Varicella (Chickenpox)2 doses (0,2 months)~10-20 years
Diphtheria1 dose, booster every 10 years10 years
Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR)2 does (0, 1 month)20 years

How to Prepare for Travel Vaccinations?

Consulting with a Healthcare Professional

Before traveling, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional who specializes in travel medicine.

They will assess your specific travel plans, medical history, and any pre-existing conditions to determine the necessary vaccinations for your trip.

They can also provide advice on other preventive measures, such as taking antimalarial medication or using insect repellent.

Gathering Important Information

When consulting with a healthcare professional, be sure to provide them with detailed information about your travel plans. This includes the countries you will be visiting, the duration of your trip, and the activities you will be engaging in.

This information will help the healthcare professional make informed recommendations regarding vaccinations and other preventive measures.

The Importance of Timely Vaccinations

Adhering to Vaccination Schedules

Some travel vaccinations require multiple doses or a waiting period before they become effective. It is crucial to adhere to the recommended vaccination schedules to ensure maximum protection.

Failure to complete the full course of vaccinations may leave you susceptible to diseases during your travels.

Avoiding Last-Minute Vaccinations

It is advisable to consult your doctor 4 to 6 weeks before you travel and receive travel vaccinations well in advance of your trip. Last-minute vaccinations may not provide adequate protection, as some vaccines require time and normally takes up to 2 weeks to build immunity.

By planning ahead and scheduling your vaccinations in a timely manner, you can ensure that you are fully protected before embarking on your journey.

Tips for a Smooth Vaccination Experience

Preparing for the Appointment

To ensure a smooth vaccination experience, follow these tips:

  • Research: Familiarize yourself with the recommended vaccinations for your destination before your appointment.

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water before and after your vaccinations to stay hydrated.

  • Wear Comfortable Clothing: Choose loose-fitting clothing that allows easy access to the injection site.

Managing Side Effects

If you experience any side effects after receiving travel vaccinations, follow these tips:

  • Rest: Get plenty of rest to allow your body to recover.

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink fluids to stay hydrated and help flush out any toxins.

  • Take Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers: If you have mild discomfort or fever, over-the-counter pain relievers can help alleviate symptoms.

Traveling After Vaccination

Understanding Vaccine Protection

It is important to understand that travel vaccinations do not provide 100% protection against diseases. They significantly reduce the risk of contracting certain illnesses, but it is still possible to become infected.

Therefore, it is important to take additional precautions while traveling, such as practicing good hygiene, using insect repellent, and avoiding contact with sick individuals.

Taking Precautions while Traveling

Even after receiving travel vaccinations, it is important to take precautions to stay healthy during your trip. This includes practicing good hand hygiene, drinking bottled water, eating well-cooked food, and using insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites.

Additionally, be aware of any specific health risks or disease outbreaks in your destination and take appropriate measures to minimize your exposure.

Travelling to Asia

The following travel vaccinations are recommended for travel in Asia:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Influenza
  • Typhoid
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Cholera
  • Rabies
  • Prophylaxis (Malaria)

Travelling to Middle East

The following travel vaccinations are recommended for travel to the Middle East:

  • Meningococcal
  • Influenza
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Cholera
  • Polio
  • Typhoid
  • Rabies

Travelling to Oceania

The following travel vaccinations are recommended for travel in Oceania:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Influenza
  • Typhoid
  • Japanese encephaitis
  • Rabies
  • Prophylaxis (Malaria)

Travelling to Africa

The following travel vaccinations are recommended for travel to Africa:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Meningococcal
  • Influenza
  • Typhoid
  • Rabies
  • Yellow Fever
  • Prophylaxis (Malaria)

Yellow fever vaccination is particularly important, as it is required for entry into many African countries.

Yellow fever is a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes. This vaccine is required for entry into certain countries in Africa and South America.

Malaria prophylaxis is also essential, as malaria is prevalent in many parts of Africa.

Travelling to North America & Europe

The following travel vaccinations are recommended for travel to North America & Europe:

  • Meningococcal
  • Influenza
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B

If you are travelling to Europe, in places like Porto, you will need comfortable walking shoes, Adante card for public transportation, and pay a visit to a port wine cellar.

Travelling to Central & South America

The following travel vaccinations are recommended for travel to Central & South America:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Typhoid
  • Influenza
  • Rabies
  • Yellow Fever
  • Prophylaxis (Malaria)

Frequently Asked Questions

I will be travelling in less than a week, is it advisable to get a vaccination now?

It depends on how long your trip is. For optimal results, you should be vaccinated 4 to 6 weeks before you travel. Immunity after vaccination normally takes up to 2 weeks to develop. Do check with our doctors on the vaccinations required of the country you are travelling to.

Will I fall sick as a result of the vaccination?

A vaccination will not make you sick, but you may develop body ache or fever because your immune system is reacting to the vaccination(s).During consultation, the doctor will advise you on the possible side effects of the vaccination(s) that you are taking.

I am now on antibiotics, can I still proceed with the travel vaccination?

If you are on antibiotics, you are likely to be ill. It is better to delaythe vaccination until you are well.

I have done a travel vaccination before, how do I know if I need to do it again?

It depends on the type of vaccination. The immunity level, and length of protection is different for each vaccination. Some vaccinations require an annual update, while others can last for a few years.

I am currently pregnant, can I still get vaccinated?

It varies with different vaccines. Please discuss with a doctor on your suitability.

I am having a flu / cold, can I still proceed with a vaccination?

If there is a fever or if you have just recovered from a fever, it is best to plan the vaccination later.

Are children required to be vaccinated?

It depends on the vaccine and where the children are travelling to. Your doctor will require information on the current child’s immunization records before being able to advise accordingly.

Conclusion

Travel vaccinations are an essential part of ensuring a safe and healthy trip. By taking the time to research and receive the necessary vaccinations, you can protect yourself from potentially life-threatening diseases.

Remember to consult with a healthcare professional, adhere to vaccination schedules, and take additional precautions while traveling. Stay informed, stay protected, and enjoy your travels with peace of mind.

Travel vaccinations are crucial for protecting yourself against diseases that may not be prevalent in your home country. They also help prevent the spread of diseases to other individuals, both in your home country and in the country you are visiting.

By taking the necessary precautions, including receiving travel vaccinations, practicing good hygiene, and staying informed about health risks, you can stay healthy and enjoy your travels to the fullest.

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