Now that we can once again hear the flight steward announce "fasten your seatbelt and switch your mobile devices to flight mode" Walker Street Doctors are looking forward once again to providing you with travel advice and vaccinations.
Thorough pretravel preparation, vaccination, prescription of chemoprophylaxis, advice regarding medical kits and and travel education can mitigate avoidable risk.
An adequate personalised risk assessment obtains sufficient information about:
• Age of traveller
• Pregnancy or breast feeding
• Intended or planned activities
• Financial constraints
• Vaccination history
• Travel insurance
• Access to healthcare while travelling
• Rural vs Urban accommodation
• Means of travel
• Destination, itinerary and duration of stay.
Influenza and COVID are the most common diseases in travellers and up to date vaccination is recommended.
Travel Vaccinations can be considered in three broad groups:
• Routine Childhood and Adult Vaccinations – MMR/ Hepatitis B/ Influenza, COVID 19, Tetanus and Meningococcus B. The risk is higher for these illnesses while travelling than is the risk for exotic tropical infections. • Vaccinations required for crossing borders. (eg.Yellow Fever) • Recommended vaccinations according to the risk of disease. (eg. Malaria, Rabies, Typhoid, Hepatitis A etc)
In order to minimize jet lag, we encourage travellers to be well rested prior to travel and to eat light meals during travel, to remain well hydrated, and to limit alcohol and caffeine. Melatonin, a prescription medication, can be helpful to reset the body clock on arrival at your international destination.
Deep Venous Thrombosis can occur as a result of prolonged immobility. The risk of DVT increases in flights greater than 4 hours and increases with the duration of travel. The risk increases in the presence of obesity, the use of the combined oral contraceptive pill and Hormone Replacement Therapy and with recent surgery or family history of DVT.
Exercising the calf muscles during flight can be helpful. Aspirin is not advised for prevention of DVT because of a clear lack of benefit.
Your doctor can print a copy of your health summary, medications, allergies and immunisations for you prior to international travel.
Useful contents of a medical kit would include antiseptic, bandage, simple dressings, scissors, eye drops, insect repellent, antihistamine, oral rehydration, simple analgesics, sunscreen, tweezers, steri-strips, usual medications, antibiotics for the most common infections a traveller might get, condoms, oral contraceptive pill, antibiotic ointment and anti-malarial medication if required.
Some diseases can be prevented by vaccination. The potential for exposure will depend on your travel destination, purpose of the trip, itinerary, standard of accommodation, hygiene, sanitation and behaviour.
Injuries are the most frequent cause of death amongst travellers and include traffic collisions and violence particularly in low and middle income countries where trauma systems may not be well developed. Injuries can occur in other settings including in recreational waters where swimming, diving and sailing take place. Developing an awareness of the dangers and taking appropriate precautions is recommended.
For further information, please visit WHO website.