Vaccinations should be considered as part of a holistic assessment during a travel health consultation. During international travel, anywhere from 20-70% of people report health problems.
So it is best to schedule a travel consultation with your doctor 4-6 weeks before travel. This scheduling increases to 6 months prior if travelling for a long period of time, there are multiple trips or if planning to reside overseas. Some of the vaccinations to consider when travelling around the region include;
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver. Transmitted via food or water and can be totally asymptomatic to severely disabling. Two doses of the vaccine given 6-12 months apart give at least 20 years of immunity.
It is transmitted via blood or other bodily fluids. Three doses of the vaccine given over 6 months are required. A combined vaccine with Hepatitis A is available.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection transmitted through contaminated food or water. The vaccine is used from age 2 onwards and is very well tolerated. It is given as a single dose vaccine which gives immunity for 2-3 years.
TETANUS, DIPHTHERIA AND PERTUSSIS
The vaccine currently used is a combination of tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis vaccine. Travellers should have a booster every 10 years.
It is transmitted by a species of mosquito which breeds in rice paddies and is common in Asia. Vaccination is recommended for long-term travellers depending upon their itinerary and time of travel, and for residents in at-risk destinations.
Rabies is a fatal infection transmitted to humans via the bite of a rabid animal. Pre-exposure rabies vaccine is recommended for some. It is available in a 3 dose schedule which is given over 1 month. Urgent medical attention is needed if you experience an animal bite in any country known to have rabies.
Meningitis is an infection of the lining of the brain. Vaccination is recommended for travellers to certain areas.
Yellow fever is a serious mosquito-borne viral infection which causes Haemorrhagic Fever. Vaccination against yellow fever is a compulsory requirement by the WHO for travel to many parts of Africa and South America. The vaccine is single dose.
Malaria is caused by a small parasite carried by the anopheles mosquito. The parasite is transmitted to the victim by a bite. Those travelling to at risk areas should seek advice with regards to anti malarial medications. There is no effective vaccine against malaria.
Dengue Fever is a viral disease with flu-like symptoms. Anti-malarial tablets do not offer any protection against dengue fever. Insect avoidance measures offer the best protection against dengue.
It is a serious food/water borne infectious illness which is relatively common in developing countries. The vaccine available is an oral form.
Poliomyelitis is a viral infection which attacks the nerve cells of the body causing paralysis. A booster shot if not done as an adult is recommended.
Remember – it is never too late to seek advice and vaccinate, so come in and see us if you are planning a trip soon.
By Dr. Apiwat Chareonsri
MBBS (Singapore), Dip (Family Med) (Singapore)