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Easy guide to holiday vaccines. What you may need and why

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A major part of preventing sickness on holiday is getting the right jabs.

In the first of two posts, we discuss what holiday vaccines your doctor will check with you, and what they may recommend. Their advice will depend upon your destination, time frame and activities.

Dr Limin Wijaya, consultant at the Travel Clinic at Singapore General Hospital, highlighted a 2006 study that revealed “only one in five Singaporeans will consult a doctor or visit a travel clinic before they travel and of these, more than seven in 10 will be recommended to have one or more vaccines.”  *

Added to this, many adults miss out on vaccines as a child. Doctors say there’s a common myth in Singapore that vaccines are just for travellers, which means some of us may be leaving ourselves exposed.

1. Where to go for advice

Adult vaccines for travel have to be paid for and costs will vary. Many childhood vaccines are free, so make sure your little ones are up to date with all their jabs.

Travel Medicine Clinics can be found in polyclinics, private clinics and these hospitals below. Or you can call your GP for more advice.

- Tan Tock Seng Hospital

- Changi General Hospital

- Singapore General Hospital

- Khoo Teck Puat Hospital

- Raffles Hospital

If you are short of time, try The Travel Clinic at Singapore General Hospital where you don’t need an appointment. Open 8.30am – 5.30pm.

Vaccinations should be carried out 4 to 6 weeks before travelling. Below are some of the more common vaccines that may be recommended.

Hepatitis A – The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends vaccination in areas where the disease is moderately common, like in developing countries.

Hepatitis B – many adults have missed out on this vaccine as a child so best to check.

Influenza – consider the flu jab if you are travelling to a country in the winter months

Japanese Encephalitis – carried by mosquitos and may be advised if travelling to rural Asia.

Rabies (highly recommended by Singapore General Hospital) – dogs tend to be the main carriers. Report any animal bites immediately. There are localised shortages of the rabies vaccine in some parts of Asia.

Typhoid – endemic in the developing world.

Anti-malarial medications or prevention by covering up and avoiding dawn and dusk.

2. Other vaccines your doctor may discuss for you or your child

Tetanus, Pertussis and Diphtheria – Travelling or not, you should have these. As an adult you may need a booster as these vaccines tend to be given when young.

Measles, Mumps and Rubella - everyone under 40 should have these jabs.

Chickenpox – if caught as an adult it can be debilitating.

Cholera – common in developing countries as it’s associated with poverty and poor sanitation. If you eat and drink sensibly the risk is relatively low. This vaccine can also help prevent travellers suffering diarrhea that is caused by toxins from the E.coli bacteria.

Yellow Fever – in some parts of Africa and South America you may need to show proof of vaccination and on entry into Singapore if you have been in transit in the Yellow Fever zone six days prior to entry.

Meningococcal – consider if you are backpacking off the beaten track.

Polio – make sure you have a booster if you are travelling to countries where the disease can still be found.

Tuberculosis – poses a small risk to travellers but get the vaccine if you didn’t have it as a child.

For more information on vaccines and travel go to https://www.sgh.com.sg/clinical-departments-centers/travelclinic/pages/travelhealthinformation.aspx

Remember prevention is always better than cure. Discuss your travel arrangements with your doctor. Good travel insurance is essential on any trip.

Check out our second post for information on recommended jabs for South East Asia.

Wherever you go, whatever you do, remember it’s vital to have good Travel cover.
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