Immunisation before travel is not only sensible but also essential to land in a new country in order to avoid landing in some unavoidable catastrophe. This can protect against many of the more serious diseases which may be encountered during travel abroad. It is advisable to start the Immunisations 3-5 weeks before travel.
It is worth bearing in mind that immunisations do not protect against many of the more common problems (e.g. travellers' diarrhoea - infection with enterotoxigenic E.coli, Campylobacter, Shigella or Salmonella due to poor hygiene) and it is always wise to ensure high standards of food and water hygiene and to avoid being bitten by mosquitos and other insects (use safe, effective insect repellents, mosquito nets, etc.)
The following immunisations are commonly recommended to travellers : -
POLIOThis vaccine is given orally, usually on a lump of sugar, and is a simple and safe protection against poliomyelitis which is still prevalent in tropical and developing countries. A booster is needed every 10 years.
TETANUS AND DIPHTHERIAAll travellers should be in date for tetanus and diphtheria immunisation as the disease is spread throughout the world and is potentially a hazard to life. A booster dose is given as a single injection and lasts for 10 years.
TYPHOIDTyphoid is a disease contracted from contaminated food and water which leads to high fever and septicaemia. There are now three vaccines for protection against typhoid, these are: the older monovalent vaccine, a new injected single-dose vaccine, and a live oral vaccine. Immunisation is usually advised for those going to areas where the standards of food and water hygiene are poor.
HEPATITIS AShort term protection against this water-borne viral disease is offered by a single injection of immunoglobulin. A vaccine is now available which provides protection for ten years and is suitable for the frequent traveller.
HEPATITIS BHepatitis B is a viral disease of the liver that is endemic in many tropical countries. It is transmitted by sexual activity and through contaminated needles and syringes. Travellers at particular risk should consider being in date for this immunisation. The course comprises two injections separated by one month and a further injection at six months. An accelerated schedule is available for those who do not have time to complete the recommended course.
MEASLESPeople who do not have documented history of infection or laboratory evidence of immunity should receive a single dose of measles or measles-mumps-rubella vaccine generally preferred, since it offers a wider protection. A number of states within U.S.A require MMR certification.
YELLOW FEVERYellow fever vaccine, an attenuated live virus vaccine prepared in eggs, is recommended 10 days before travel. A single injection provides protection against yellow fever for ten years.
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