Prior preparation prevents poor travel health

Planning for extended travel isn’t easy. There are lots of necessary (read: responsible) things that need to happen prior to you getting on the flight out.

In this post, I’m going to talk about travel health, my mistake, and my good fortune.

Call me ignorant but even though I grew up in South East Asia where it isn’t rabies-free, I never considered travel vaccinations as part of pre-travel preparation. You’d think I’d be more paranoid. But no. I simply took my health on the road for granted. Sure, I received national standard type vaccinations as a child and some boosters along the way but never as an adult did I stop to think it was something to actually consider before travelling.

 

Even after experiencing intense gastro on my trip to Cambodia in 2007, I brushed it off as ‘the dish was too oily’. EVEN when I was hugging the toilet in the then brand new Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok (thank goodness) I was just cursing myself for eating food that was too oily. And even after all that, I laughed when someone else asked if they needed a rabies vaccine prior to their travel to India.

What an idiot.

This time though, I decided to look into travel vaccinations and at the very least equip myself with knowledge of what could happen and if it did, what I should do.

Travel Health Doctors

It’s always comforting to know that the doctors who are going to shoot you up know their shit and can offer you proper un-textbook kind of advice. Sure, textbook advice is great but hearing it from a doctor who’s travelled extensively sure does help a great deal.

If you are based in Adelaide, South Australia, I highly recommend Global Medical. They came recommended to me by Carly from The Wanderlust Days and are experienced with travel health. Having never been to any other travel health doctors before, I don’t really have anything to compare to but they were patient, efficient and quick to help solve my bad timing issues (I left getting my shots a little too close to departure date!).

Timings

My advice, do it as soon as you can.

I left this rather important bit of pre-travel preparation slightly late. Silly, ignorant me thought two weeks prior is plenty of time. But you know what? It isn’t.

I was advised to take the Hepatitis B vaccine. The adult course involves three doses of the vaccine over six months. This meant that I would have had to continue the course on the road and deal with any potential side effects on the way. Mistake!

Thank my good fortune, genes and immune system, a blood test showed I was immune to the virus.

Destinations

The vaccinations will vary depending on where you are travelling to and when. Seasons, particularly in Asia, is an important one. Monsoon seasons mean lots of rain, which means mosquito breeding time. Since many diseases are transmitted by mosquitoes, it’s important be extra mindful if you’re travelling during monsoon.

North America

First world country, what could go wrong right? I didn’t think I needed to worry about anything for this part of the world but I was wrong. According to the travel doctor I visited, there’s been a slight measles problem and thought highly unlikely that I would catch it, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Vaccinations/ booster required:

  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)

India

A trip to India means a smorgasbord of shots! It is important to note however that this doesn’t mean you need to get vaccinated for everything. I chatted with my travel doctor and he helped clarify some super important ones to get and some others that I wouldn’t have to. I just had to apply common sense and be mindful of my actions (ie. don’t be an idiot and touch a stray/ feral monkey).

Vaccinations/ boosters required:

  • Hepatitis A and Typhoid
  • Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (whooping cough)

I also was advised to be aware of any stagnant water where I was going to be staying as this creates a breeding ground for Aedes mosquitoes that spread the Dengue virus and other potentially life-threatening ones.

China

Vaccinations for China were pretty much similar to India, however as I was only going to be in urban/ metropolitan areas I didn’t need to receive a Japanese encephalitis (JE) vaccine.

That said, I still need to be mindful of the food I will be eating and where and how the food is prepared.

Others

Global Medical also gave me my very first International Certificate of Vaccination book (very handy if you can’t remember what shots you got) and the Little Book about staying healthy when travelling (also very handy for general knowledge and light reading on the plane).

Booklet - International Certificate of Vaccination

International Certificate of Vaccination

Of course, this just entails my own personal experience so if you are preparing or thinking of travelling, please contact your local doctor or travel doctor to learn more about the vaccinations you will require for your trip. Every consultation is different and will vary according your past and current health.

I hope you’ve found this post somewhat informative and useful.

Make travel health a priority and never leave it too late!

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