Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The Blond advises: travel vaccinations

Travel vaccines are one of the most important things to do before you travel. In the UK most of them are free of charge. All you need to do is call your GP surgery and make an appointment. A nurse, or a doctor, should ask you questions about your travel plans to decide which vaccines you will need.
If you are going only for a short while, then all you probably need is Hepatitis A vaccine and Tetanus. If, however, you are going for longer and planning excursions into a jungle, then it is a bit more complicated.
There are all sorts of vaccines you can have, and you need to make a decision if you actually need them.
You will probably be offered Hepatitis B vaccine, which includes 3 shots, that you take during a course of 3 weeks. Hep B is highly infectious virus spread through blood, semen and other bodily fluids. Vaccination is recommended for those whose lifestyle may place them at risk, or for people needing medical, or dental, treatment whilst away. This vaccine isn't free in the UK and costs £20 per shot. 

Another vaccine, which is offered is the rabies vaccine. Before you agree to take it, you need to ask yourself two main questions: are you going to be in an area where it is hard to get medical attention, and are you the kind of person who needs to pet every single dog or cat? If you answered yes to both, then you probably need the vaccine.
South East Asia is full of stray dogs and cats, but not everyone of them is sick. I recently read that only 0.03% of all the dogs in Bangkok carry rabies, so the situation isn't that bad as you would think. However, it is best to stay away from pets, even if they are small, cuddly and cute. Rabies is a very serious disease and nearly always fatal. It is contracted from a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Most of the sick animals behave in an unnatural way. They are either over aggressive  or seem too calm, but even the ones who behave in a normal way, can carry the disease. I'm still thinking if I should get the vaccine. It is not only the cost (£180!!), but also I'm not sure if I should inject so much chemicals into my system. 

Other vaccines you might have are:

-Hepatitis A-a single injections, followed by a further dose in 6-12 months. Gives you protection for 20 years.
-Typhoid fever - note: this vaccine is in short supply in the UK and you need to let the surgery know well in advance. I was told that, because of that, I will get an oral dose of it, instead of an injection. A 3 dose course is required annually.
-Yellow fever - the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis is required as proof of yellow fever vaccination. It is valid for 10 years beginning from the tenth day after your first dose and immediately after re-immunisation.
-Meningogoccal disease - two different types of quadrivalent meningoccoccal (gosh! how do you spell that??) vaccine are available. You need to check with your nurse, or a doctor, which one is more suitable for you.
-Japanese Enceplalitis
-Tick Borne Encephalitis 

Remember that you won't need all of them. It depends on where and how long for you are going, where you will be staying and what your exact plans for the trip are. You can read more information on the NHS site, or ask other travelers for advice.
I've had Hep A and Tetanus vaccine already and decided to go for Typhoid and Hep B. I hope this is enough to keep myself healthy.

More information on:

Do you have any other advice in terms of vaccinations? - Don't be shy! Leave a comment!

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