By Dr Angela Rai, The London General Practice.
If you’re looking to travel, for business or pleasure, then it’s best to plan ahead as you may require travel vaccinations.
Some vaccinations need to be given at least six weeks in advance, and others such as rabies need up to three visits. It’s important to check that your vaccinations are up to date and allow enough time for them to work effectively.
When visiting your Doctor be specific about your itinerary so the correct vaccinations can be given – if you’re visiting a city for a few days in a hotel you’re less likely to be at risk than if travelling to remote rural areas for long periods of time.
The following are vaccinations that you may require depending on your destination.
- Typhoid: Caught through contaminated food and water, the vaccine is usually given as one injection. (There is also a combination vaccination with typhoid and hepatitis A). Typhoid can be found throughout the world but is more common in countries such as Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, South East Asia and South America.
- Hepatitis A: Vaccination is one injection and a booster. It is spread by contaminated food and water. Hepatitis A can occur worldwide but most commonly in countries where the sanitation is poor.
- Rabies: Usually given as three injections over a period of four to six weeks. Rabies is caught by the bite or scratch of an infected animal.
- Yellow fever: Given as one injection at least 10 days before travel to allow enough time for the body to develop protection. Yellow fever vaccinations can only be given at designated centres. You may be required to produce a certificate if you’re travelling to certain countries.
- Malaria: Found in many tropical and subtropical countries. There is no vaccination, however you can protect against the disease with prevention tablets. Suitability of your medication needs to be discussed with a qualified health professional and you should ensure that you can tolerate the recommended tablets, and that the tablets are appropriate for your destination. It’s important to remember that no malaria tablet is considered 100% effective and other precautions should be taken which your Doctor can advise you about, such as insect repellent with DEET.
- Zika: Zika virus is another infection caused by mosquitoes. For most people it causes a very mild infection and is not harmful, however, it may be more serious for pregnant women. There is evidence that it can cause birth defects, in particular a condition called microcephaly which is a birth defect of an abnormally small head.Zika outbreaks have been reported in the Pacific region and have spread to South and Central America, the Caribbean and Southeast Asia. Pregnant woman are recommended to postpone non-essential travel to areas of high or moderate risk until after pregnancy.
It’s always important to seek advice before your trip as it’s tailored to you and based on your personal levels of risk for the country that you’re travelling to.
The London General Practice runs daily travel vaccination clinics for all your travel needs, and is a registered Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre. For more information ‘phone 020 7935 1000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org