Like it or not, international travel can come with some risks. These will vary depending on your destinations, who you are travelling with, and the type and length of your stay. International travel vaccination requirements can also depend on your current state of health and current state of wealth too!
People who are immunocompromised, are allergic to vaccinations, children and the elderly are especially advised to seek medical advice before travelling abroad.
- If you are going for a one week vacation in resort style accommodation where you are not leaving your hotel and you are in a first world country, you can likely avoid having to get jabs.
- The opposite scenario is obviously a six month backpacking journey through the wilds of India, staying in villages and eating like a local, while volunteering in orphanages and animal refuges.
Yellow fever is found in parts of Africa and South America. It is transmitted by mosquitoes and the symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting with severe complications of heart and kidney failure. It is incurable, but luckily is vaccine preventable.
The Yellow Fever Vaccine is good for 10 years.
Did you know that the building of the Panama Canal was continuously delayed because the workers kept dying all over the place from Yellow Fever! The name Yellow Fever comes from the terrible jaundice that sufferers can display in the severe form of the disease.
Some countries require presentation of an International Travel Vaccination Certificate for proof of protection from Yellow Fever on entry. And there is another group of countries that while Yellow Fever is not found within, they require proof that you won’t be carrying it in if you have come from a Yellow Fever positive region. This info is changing all the time so it is best to check with your local Travel Medicine Clinic or the World Health Organisation website before you go.
Proof of Yellow Fever Vaccination is REQUIRED to Enter:
- Central African Republic
- Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- French Guiana
- Sierra Leone
If you have recently visited or transited through any of these countries, you will need your proof of vaccination to enter a long list of other countries as well.
Yellow Fever Vaccination is RECOMMENDED for Travel to:
- Argentina – Misiones Province
- Ecuador excluding Galapagos Islands
- French Guiana
Remember to keep your Yellow Fever Vax Certificate with your passport as you will be asked to show it when you travel onward from countries where Yellow Fever is endemic.
For detailed info on specific destinations, see the WHOs list here.
If you are travelling anywhere near Malaria, it is recommended to take steps to prevent transmission. The risk and severity of Malaria depends on which countries you are visiting. Please check with your Travel Health Clinic for recommended medical intervention.
The first line defence to prevent the spread of malaria is to avoid being bitten in the first place.
Wear long sleeved loose fitting clothing washed in permethrin, use insect repellent containing DEET and be particularly prudent at dawn and dusk as this is when malaria carrying mosquitoes are most active.
Some countries will require a more intensive line of defence, as there are strains of malaria which are worse than others.
It is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED to get some malaria prevention if you are visiting:
- Temperate lowland areas of Africa, South America and South East Asia especially. For more specific information on each country, please see the WHO list of countries.
Cholera is a bacterial infection of the small intestine that causes large amounts of watery diarrhoea. It is transmitted by unsafe food or water that has been contaminated by faeces containing the bacteria responsible. Access to sanitary drinking water is the best way to prevent the spread of Cholera which can lead to death without treatment.
There is a vaccine is available at your local Travel Health Clinic but its use depends on the sort of trip you are doing. If you are spending a long time travelling deep within a country where Cholera is endemic, and getting down with the locals, it may be wise to have the vaccine.
The vaccine lasts 6 months.
Some countries where Cholera is endemic:
- Africa – Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Tanzania.
- Americas – Dominican Republic and Haiti.
- Asia – Afghanistan and Iraq.
Hepatitis and Typhoid
Hepatitis A can be caught by touching a doorknob. It is spread by faecal matter contaminating surfaces and food. Hep B and C are blood borne viruses and so are recommended for those engaging in ‘at risk’ activities, eg. unprotected sex, tattoos, IV drug use, medical, dental or cosmetic procedures.
Hepatitis A vaccine is usually given in conjunction with Typhoid and if you have a Hep A booster within 6 months, you are covered for 20 years! Typhoid boosters are recommended every 3 years.
Both of these viruses are quite prevalent in the developing world especially:
- India, Nepal, Bangladesh
- It is also common in parts of Africa, South East Asia, The Middle East and many parts of South America and Eastern Europe.
Hepatitis A vaccine is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED for travel to these areas. Typhoid vaccination is RECOMMENDED, especially for longer stays.
Personally, I have never bothered having the rabies vaccine, it is really expensive and requires a lot of pre-planning as you have to have a series of 3 injections a few months prior to travel. Then, if you are bitten by an animal in a rabies affected area, you still have to get emergency rabies treatment anyway which involves injecting more vaccine directly into the bite. The difference is, you will have a longer time frame to get the emergency treatment if you have had the vaccine. 24 hours vs 48 hours.
The consideration to getting a rabies vaccine depends on your type of travel. I know I have little or no contact with dogs when I travel and I would like to think I can avoid being bitten. I definitely avoid monkeys too.
See your Travel Health Clinic about rabies vaccination if your trip goes through rural areas or lasts more than a few months.
Parts of Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and South America have high risk of rabies. Check out the full list here.
Another fun mosquito borne virus, Japanese Encephalitis can have serious consequences causing an infection to the brain.
Luckily there is a vaccine available, and it consists of 2 injections, 28 days apart.
If you are travelling to rural areas of Asia and the Pacific, the vaccine is STRONGLY RECOMMENDED.
Check out these detailed posts on your destination countries for current travel vaccination advice.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and I recommend that you visit your local Travel Health Clinic for advice relevant to your particular destination and style of travel. You should visit at least 3 months prior to travel as some vaccines require a longer schedule. If you have not had standard childhood immunisations, you might need to consider further immunisations to protect yourself against diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, polio etc.
Don’t be complacent with your health. Please leave your questions regarding travel vaccinations below!
DISCLAIMER The author of this article is not a doctor and the medical/dietary advice that is provided herein is not to replace users of the sites current medical situation or advice that may have been given by their GP or legal consultant. Gadsventure is here solely for support as an optional alternative. In no way does the information contained within www.gadsventure.com advise anyone to use this knowledge as a replacement for any medical condition.