Get vaccinated before you fly
Heading overseas? It's important to get your vaccinations well in advance of your departure. Not only will you be protecting your health, but it might be a requirement of entry for some countries.
When it comes to getting vaccinated for a trip, there are two places you should look for information: the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and your local GP.
To ensure that any vaccines you do need are effective when you're overseas, it's recommended that you visit your doctor at least 6-8 weeks before travellingi. A Rabies vaccination, for instance, requires 3 shots over a monthii. If you leave getting vaccinated until the last minute, you may not be protected against certain infections for part of your tripi. Part of getting covered may simply require getting boosters of vaccines you have already hadiii.
Travelling in Asia, South-America and Africa
Different countries face different health challengesiv. In general, less developed countries are riskier for visitors due to poor local knowledge about disease prevention, relatively underdeveloped sanitation systems, and difficulty of accessing medical help in the event of falling ill. Certain countries in South-East Asia, South America or Africa may fall into this category, in which case it is absolutely essential that you get the right shots before you leavev.
It's important to be aware that some vaccinations, such as Yellow Fever, are a mandatory condition of entry for certain countries, such as Cambodia, China, and Fiji, when arriving from countries that the World Health Organisation has stated have a risk of Yellow Fever transmissionvi. So you not only need to be aware of the vaccinations you need if you are coming from Australia, you need to be aware of the implications of travelling or transiting through other countries.
DFAT recommends the vaccines you'll need for certain continents. The table covers some common vaccinations needed for various continents that Australians travel to, around the world:
||Some of the most common recommended vaccinations
||Malaria, Cholera, Hepatitis, Typhoid, Measles, Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis, Avian Influenzavii
||Malaria, Tuberculosis, Measles, Rabies, Hepatitisviii
||Malaria, Yellow Fever, Cholera, Typhoid, Hepatitisix
||Typhoid, Hepatitis, Tuberculosis, Measles, Mumpsx
||Malaria, Hepatitis, Typhoid, Tuberculosis, Rabiesxi
||Malaria, Yellow Fever, Meningitis, Meningococcal, Polio, Hepatitisxii
||Yellow Fever, Hepatitis, Tuberculosisxiii
If you do get sick overseas
Falling ill overseas can be particularly stressful as adequate health services may not be available - especially if it happens in a poor country or remote area. Additionally, no assistance with healthcare costs is provided when travelling overseas, unless the country has signed a Reciprocal Health Care Agreement with Australiaxiv.
- Australia's Reciprocal Health Care Agreements: New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Belgium, Malta, Slovenia and Norwayxiv.
It pays to be vigilant with health-related issues such as vaccinations before you go away. Checking official government sites for their recommendations and visiting your GP should be made part of the planning process.
It's essential to ensure that you have sufficient travel insurance before you go overseas in case you do fall ill, since Medicare will not cover health-related expenses overseasxv. Get travel insurance for your peace of mind whilst travelling.
Useful sites for further information about vaccinations and travel include DFAT, Smartraveller and Travel Doctor.
i The Travel Doctor – Traveller’s Medical & Vaccination Centre, 2010, About Your Visit, http://www.traveldoctor.com.au/Content/Knowledge-Hub/About-your-visit
ii Department of Health and Ageing, Australian Government, 2013 Rabies and other lyssaviruses (including Australian bat lyssavirus), http://www.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/handbook10-4-16
iii Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government, 2013, Health, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/tips/health.html
iv World Health Organization, 2010, The World Health Report 2010 – Health systems financing: the path to universal coverage, http://whqlibdoc.who.int/whr/2010/9789241564021_eng.pdf
v The Better Health Channel, Victoria Government, 2012, Travel vaccinations, http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Travel_vaccinations
vi World Health Organization, 2012, Country list: Yellow fever vaccination requirements and recommendations; and malaria situation, http://www.who.int/ith/chapters/ith2012en_countrylist.pdf
vii World Health Organization, 2012, Indonesia, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Indonesia, World Health Organization, 2012, Thailand, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Thailand, World Health Organization, 2012, China, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/China, Singapore, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Singapore, Singapore, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Singapore
viii Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government, 2013, Turkey, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Turkey, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government, 2013, Greece, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Greece
ix Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government, 2012, Brazil, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Brazil, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government, 2012, Colombia, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Colombia
x Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government, 2013, Fiji, 2011, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Fiji, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government, 2013, Samoa, 2011, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Samoa
xi Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government, 2013, Mexico, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Mexico
xii Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government, 2013, Uganda, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Uganda, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government, 2013, Egypt, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Egypt
xiii Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government, 2012, Trinidad and Tobago, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Trinidad_and_Tobago, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australian Government, 2012, Jamaica, http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/Jamaica
xiv Department of Human Services, Australian Government, 2013, Reciprocal Health Care Agreements, http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/medicare/reciprocal-health-care-agreements
xv Medicare Australia, Australian Government, 2007, Travelling Overseas, http://www.medicareaustralia.gov.au/public/migrants/travelling/index.shtml