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Do I need vaccinations and/or malaria medication?

There are many factors that need to be considered by you and your health care professional when assessing the need for vaccines and/or malaria medication. The travel map is only a guide and not a replacement for professional health advice. Be sure to speak to your doctor or visit a travel clinic at least 6 to 8 weeks before you travel. Take along your full itinerary including areas that might be 'off the beaten track' so that your doctor can make the best assessment of your needs.

Can I eat the local food? Is the water safe to drink?

Some common diseases such as hepatitis A, typhoid and traveller’s diarrhoea are acquired by consuming water or food contaminated with a bacteria or virus, or through direct contact with an infected person. Travellers to countries where food hygiene is inadequate should take care to avoid potentially contaminated food and water; some recommendations include:

  • drinking and using safe clean water e.g. only using sealed bottled water or boiled water to drink and brush teeth
  • not putting ice in drinks unless you know it’s from safe water
  • washing hands often using soap and safe clean water
  • avoiding eating food kept at room temperature for several hours
  • avoiding uncooked food, including salads and fruit that cannot be peeled, and seafood
  • thoroughly boiling or cooking food and drinks

An easy way to remember what to avoid is: If you cannot boil it, cook it or peel it - forget it.

Is there any point taking anti-malarials since I still have to take measures to avoid mosquito bites?

Precautionary measures to avoid mosquito bites can be effective at reducing the risk of contracting malaria. However no method is 100% effective and you can’t be certain that you won’t be bitten. When anti-malarials are taken as recommended, the risk of contracting disease and the risk of serious disease is reduced. Most cases of malaria infection in travellers occur when medication is not taken as prescribed and measures to avoid mosquito bites (such as using repellents or insecticide treated bed nets) have not been adhered to.

What are the side-effects of the vaccines?

Some side effects may be experienced after vaccination. Most side effects are mild, short-lived and will clear within a few days. Common side effects can include a sore arm, fever, and pain and redness at the injection site. If you experience any side-effects, regardless of how minor the symptoms are, make sure you report them to your doctor.

It is worth remembering that vaccines help protect against diseases that can be very serious and potentially fatal. If you have any concerns about the side-effects of vaccines, please speak to your doctor.

 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE SPEAK TO YOUR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL

 

AUS/VAC/0049/15. Date of approval: April 2015.