Do you need vaccinations before travelling abroad?

It is important that immunizations, preventative medications, and general precautions should be considered before travelling to different parts of the world.

Travel vaccines are used to prevent illness and disease while travelling. They can range from typhoid fever, yellow fever, malaria and many more. The various vaccinations are administered at least 4 – 12 weeks before travelling to ensure enough time to develop an immune response before exposure to an illness or disease.

Vaccinations will vary from person to person, depending on the following: the country you will be visiting, the season, your age, health condition, length of your visit, and if you are staying in a rural or urban area.

Although few immunizations are compulsory for international travel, some are recommended for the traveller’s protection. Many countries require you to have a certificate confirming the various vaccinations.

Which vaccines you should get before you travel

Vaccines that are necessary for travel are divided into three categories: routine, recommended and required vaccinations.

Routine Vaccinations – Ensure that you are up to date on your routine vaccinations. These vaccines are necessary for protection from diseases that are still common in many parts of the world like: Tetanus, Polio, Measles, Mumps and Rubella, Diphtheria and Influenza (Flu).

Recommended Vaccinations

Recommended vaccines are travel vaccinations that can protect you in areas where there is a high risk for contracting certain illnesses or infectious diseases. They also help prevent the spread of diseases from one country to another.

Required Vaccinations

The only vaccine required by International Health Regulations is the yellow fever vaccination for travel to certain parts of Africa and South America.

Most important vaccinations for Travellers

Here is a list of vaccines that are recommended for international travellers as well as the areas reflecting a high risk for contracting certain illnesses or infectious diseases.

Hepatitis A – An infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus. This viral infection spreads through contaminated food, water, shellfish, or person to person contact where poor hygiene is common. Areas most common: Africa, India, North and South America, South East Asia & Eastern Europe.

Hepatitis B – An infection of the liver caused by the hepatitis B virus. This virus is transferred from one person to another through infected body fluid, such as blood contact, infected medical equipment and sexual transmission. Areas most common: Africa, China, Southeast Asia and India.

Typhoid Fever – This disease may be contracted through contaminated drinking water or food or by consuming food or beverages that have been handled by an infected person. Areas most common: Africa, India, Americas, Eastern Europe and most parts of Asia.

Yellow Fever – This infection leads to the degeneration of kidney and liver tissues. Yellow fever is spread through infectious mosquitoes. It causes very serious illness and usually death. Areas most common: Parts of Africa and South America.

Japanese Encephalitis – This type of viral brain infection is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. Areas most common: Asia, India, China, Japan, Southeast Asia, the Philippines, or Pacific Islands.

Rabies – A very serious disease that most people get by way of a bite inflicted by a dog, a bat, a monkey, a skunk or a raccoon. Areas most common: Africa, Southern America and Asia.

Malaria – Malaria is an infectious blood disease caused by the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito that injects parasites into the human bloodstream and infects the red blood cells. Areas most common: Africa, Asia, Central or South America.

Meningitis – Meningitis is a serious infectious illness which affects your brain and spinal cord. Areas most common: Parts of Africa, Saudi Arabia, Northern Pakistan, Northern India and parts of South America.