Make sure your regular childhood vaccinations are up-to-date. These include measles, diphtheria, tetanus and polio. If you can’t remember when you last had a booster, chances are it’s time for you to have a shot.
Recommended vaccinations for travellers
Recommended vaccinations vary from country to country, depending on the level of risk a disease poses there. The World Health Organisation (WHO) website has up-to-date information on what vaccinations are required for which country.
Another good source of information is the Australian Government’s Smart Traveller website – it’s also a must-visit destination for a range of travel information for all Australian travellers, no matter where you’re going.
If you’re travelling to a region or country that’s known to have a high risk for a particular disease or infection, your doctor can recommend you get the right vaccinations to help protect your health. These could include:
- Hepatitis A
- Japanese encephalitis
- Meningococcal C
- Tick-borne encephalitis
In a few rare instances you may need to be vaccinated for specific diseases in order to be able to enter a country (you’ll be required to give documented proof). These include vaccinations for:
- Yellow fever for parts of Africa and South America
- Meningitis for Saudi Arabia during the Haj
Unfortunately, not all illnesses you could get overseas can be prevented with a vaccination. Gastro illnesses are generally transmitted by poorly prepared food, unclean water or through a lack of hygiene standards. Although these can’t be avoided entirely, steps can be taken to help lower your risk.
Find out more about gastro and how you can keep yourself safe.
A word about malaria…
Although no vaccination is available for malaria, if you’re going to a malaria-prone area, your doctor will likely prescribe you a script of pills to minimise your risk. You generally start taking these a couple of days before you arrive in the malarial region and keep on taking them until up to two weeks after you’ve left.
Tips to look after your health
Getting the right vaccinations is a cornerstone of any healthy travel plan, but there are several other steps you can take both before and during your trip.
- Research where you’re going – know what the health risks are and get an idea of water and food hygiene standards.
- Think about what you’ll be doing – if you’ll be in rural areas or coming in to contact with animals, what steps do you need to take to keep safe?
- Investigate travel insurance policies, which include cover for overseas emergency medical assistance, for additional peace of mind.
- Consider your own personal needs if you’re a high-risk traveller, such as being pregnant, elderly, having a health condition (or pre-existing condition) or are responsible for a baby or toddler. Find out from your doctor what extra steps you may need to take to keep safe.
Keep an eye on your health after you get home
If you become unwell while you’re away, there’s a chance you won’t begin to feel the symptoms until after you’re back. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on your health once you get home. If you’re feeling under the weather, it’s important you get checked by your GP.