When you’re going on a much-needed overseas holiday, it can be easy to focus more on what you’re going to do when you get there, as opposed to what you should do before you go. However, alongside planning your itinerary, you should also schedule a doctor’s visit for vaccinations.
Six to eight weeks before you leave the country, book a doctor’s appointment for vaccinations, booster shots, or general advice. Vaccinations can protect you from potentially fatal diseases and are necessary for those who are vulnerable such as pregnant women, babies, children, the immune- weakened, and the elderly.
A vaccination is a small dose of inactive microbes that form part of the disease from which you are seeking protection. By exposing your body to low doses of it, your immune system becomes strong enough to fight off the illness should you expose it to the real thing.
Some preventable diseases can be fatal. It’s in your best interests to protect yourself if the option is available. What’s more, some countries do not provide entry if you have not had certain vaccinations. Even if you have had vaccinations for the likes of measles or polio in the past, you may need a booster shot. Make an appointment to see your doctor at least six weeks before you travel to allow time for the vaccination to take effect, or in instances where multiple shots of one vaccine.
The vaccinations you need can depend on where you’re going as well as your background. When you see your doctor, consideration will be given to your destination, vaccination history, age, health, and origin.
Depending on your destination, you can receive vaccinations for diseases such as rabies, measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), tetanus, cholera, hepatitis A and B, yellow fever, typhoid, and tuberculosis. These are just a few of the several common vaccinations, but seek advice from your doctor on what else you may require.
In Australia, all vaccinations are put through strict testing to be labelled as ‘safe’ by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. There is minimal risk of you coming to harm through vaccinations, but your doctor will advise on any side effects or potential complications.
Most side effects consist of muscle and joint pain, headaches, nausea, tiredness, fever, and pain and tenderness around the needle site. More rarely, people develop allergic reactions known as anaphylaxis. Your doctor is trained to handle such a situation, but if you have been allergic to vaccinations in the past, inform them when making your appointment.
If you intend on heading overseas in the foreseeable future, find out what your vaccination requirements are. Make a doctor’s appointment at least 6-8 weeks before you travel and let the adventure begin!