Travelling to another country can potentially expose you to preventable health risks. It is therefore important to get appropriate vaccination whenever you travel out of the country.
The whole idea behind vaccination is to protect yourself from potential diseases when travelling. Think of it as a precautional measure to minimize or eliminate your risk of contracting a health condition while on vacation. When planning for a trip, include immunization among the things you have to do, just as important as updating your travel insurance.
Exposure to risk depends on the country you are travelling to, your current health status, the activities you will be engaged in, immunization history, sex, age, and pre-existing medical conditions. Below is a guide to vaccinations for travellers.
1. Do a Pre-travel Research
Having prior knowledge about your travel destination and getting the appropriate immunization is key to shielding you against disease. Before you go to the clinic for vaccinations, research your travel destination in view of your planned activities. You also need to read travel advisories by relevant bodies such as CDC, Health Canada, and the WHO.
2. Go for a Pre-travel Health Assessment
Once you have researched your travel destination, the next step is to make an appointment with your family doctor. At this time, you may have a list of questions to ask your healthcare provider who will also recommend the appropriate vaccinations based on the country you will be travelling to. Do this early on, at least six weeks ahead of your scheduled departure. Some vaccines take a week or so for your body to develop antibodies to kickstart the immune process.
Besides, some vaccines require multiple doses administered over several visits to a clinic. Some cannot be administered simultaneously with others. Another reason to seek vaccination ahead of your travel date is that it is sometimes difficult to get a clinic appointment during peak travel seasons when they are likely to be overbooked.
3. Inquire about Vaccination Costs
It is important to know how much the vaccination will cost you. Most health plans in Canada do not cover a number of travel vaccines. You, therefore, need to budget for vaccination alongside your other travel expenses. To save costs, get a prescription from your family doctor before buying the vaccine; then get a designated pharmacy to administer it on you.
4. Know the Most Common Vaccinations
It is good to know the most common conditions that require vaccination. These include pertussis (for adults), Hepatitis B, tetanus and diphtheria (adults), varicella, mumps and rubella, measles, poliomyelitis or polio (adults).
Another key vaccine is the yellow fever one, which is sometimes very rare to get and is administered mostly at designated yellow fever vaccination centres. It is important to contact your clinic in advance to find if they have the vaccine. Other conditions for vaccination include influenza, Hepatitis A, meningococcal, Japanese encephalitis, typhoid, rabies, cholera, etc.
Some illnesses such as dengue fever and malaria have no vaccines in Canada. When travelling to destinations with these diseases, take appropriate measures to protect yourself such as using an insect repellent or mosquito nets to protect parts of your skin that are exposed.
5. Pack a General Purpose Emergency Kit
The aim of vaccinations is to prevent contracting a disease. However, it is always good to have with you a medical emergency kit containing an insect repellent, sunscreen, mosquito net, filters or water purification tablets, first aid items, antibacterial solutions, and assorted medicines for various common issues such as pain, diarrhea, fever, etc.
If you are planning to travel out of Canada, be aware of the various vaccinations required for your travel destination. The goal is to protect you from preventable illnesses by getting the appropriate vaccinations.