Sunday, August 2, 2009

Don’t be a vaccine virgin

Getting the right jabs before travelling is vital for a safer and more enjoyable trip

• A bottle of mosquito repellent, suncream and a packet of Motilium are not enough for travelling to certain countries. Whether you are taking a safari to Africa, volunteering in South America or backpacking through Europe, you should be aware of the health risks linked to international travel.
• You will not need vaccinations to visit any European country, unless you have visited a non-European country shortly beforehand. However vaccines should be considered if you are travelling to areas outside of Western Europe, North America, Australia, and New Zealand. Numerous destinations require certain vaccinations, some six to twelve weeks in advance.
• The first step it to make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic to have a basic check-up and find out if any health checks are required. Not all tourists to countries where there is a potential risk of infection need to be vaccinated. However it is important that you discuss your personal travel plans with a doctor so they can determine the correct vaccinations for your trip.
• An early start to the vaccine process is particularly important if you plan to travel with children. The BCG vaccination against tuberculosis (TB), for example, should be given at least three months before your child travels. Certain vaccinations are compulsory while others are recommended, but the decision is ultimately left to your own discretion. However, it makes sense to do everything you can to guard against illness and disease while you are away.
• Protection against Yellow Fever is essential. This is a potentially fatal viral disease carried by certain mosquitoes in parts of Africa and South America. Yellow fever vaccine is only available from approved medical practitioners and must be given at least 10 days before travel to infected areas. You can obtain a list of locally approved yellow fever vaccinations providers from the Department of Health. Yellow fever may be spread by an infected traveller, so if you are travelling to a country where the disease is a risk, you may need a certificate showing proof of vaccination. Without this certificate you may be refused entry to some countries, or required to be vaccinated upon arrival.
• Like all necessities, vaccines don’t come cheap. They are not free in Ireland through the public health system - even if you hold a medical card. You will have to pay the full cost for vaccinations.
• You can find out more about healthy travel and vaccinations from the World Health Organisation: or the Tropical Medical Bureau on 1850 487 674

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