Clinic News – August 2018

Travel and other vaccinations at Mornington Coastal Medical Centre.

Searching for travel advice on the internet or travel forms can be a bit like jumping out a window and figuring so far so good. It pays to take a few simple precautions before travelling overseas. The most common problem affecting travellers overseas would be travellers’ diarrhoea which can occur in up to 50% of patients. Simple precautions such as not drinking tap water, making sure that all your fluids come from a bottle or can and eating food that is freshly cooked and has not been reheated can help to avoid this annoying occurrence on holidays. When we talk about travelling overseas we like to make sure that people are up to date with their routine vaccines. Illnesses that are not commonly seen in Australia e.g. Measles, can occur overseas and infect you and others coming into contact with you e.g. on the plane as is occasionally seen on news stories.
Pay special attention to fluid requirements of young children travelling overseas, this age group often gets dehydrated, also pay special attention to fluid requirements for the elderly, being in the hot sun and not drinking enough fluid can lead to falls and broken bones. Also be mindful that travelling from a winter environment to a more sunny environment can cause the unpleasantness of sunburn.

The only officially required vaccine for travelling overseas is Yellow Fever vaccine. If you are travelling to South America or parts of Africa seek information about this. Mornington Coastal Medical Centre is an officially certified Yellow Fever vaccination centre.
The most common vaccine preventable illness is Hepatitis A. This illness has a prevalence of about 1% per month in developing countries. Hepatitis A is most commonly associated with 6 weeks of nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and jaundice. It can very rarely be fatal. One dose of Hepatitis A lasts for a year, and please remember to get a booster in a years’ time to ensure life-long immunity to this common infection.

The second commonest vaccine preventable illness would be Typhoid vaccine and this is often recommended at the same time as Hepatitis A vaccine.
Cholera vaccine is not as widely recommended as it used to be. Other vaccines that are occasionally recommended might include Japanese Encephalitis, Rabies, Meningococci’s, (different strains to in Australia) Hepatitis B, TB, Tick born Encephalitis, although the vast majority of travellers would be covered by Hepatitis A and Typhoid.
Influenza and Pneumonia vaccine are occasionally recommended, it is not too late in the season to get vaccinated and the surgery still has a large stock on hand. If your child is under 8 years old and this was their first year of having the flu vaccine they would need a booster dose 1 month after their first flu vaccine.

Malaria occurs in certain countries, this is not preventable by a vaccine however it is preventable by taking pre exposure and post exposure prophylaxis in the form of anti-Malaria tablets. The instance of Malaria varies from country to country. Further information about this could be obtained by speaking to your doctor.
Whilst it is appropriate to allow a month or 6 weeks before travelling overseas certain vaccines eg. Hepatitis A can actually be given the day before you travel and would still be effective, although this is not a preferred method of vaccination it can help in a rushed situation and safeguard your health overseas.

Happy travels!