Aussie’s avoid travel jab
September 16, 2011 · Print This Article
Australians are travelling more often, but some are neglecting their health by not getting vaccinated.
A recent survey of 1000 Australians by travel insurance company Fit2travel showed 73% of respondents were not getting vaccinated before they travelled, despite only 13 saying their doctors advised them vaccinations were not needed.
Professor Peter Leggat, who runs a course in travel medicine at James Cook University, said he was surprised by the results.
“All Australian travellers who have not sought health advice before travelling may be at risk because of the different health conditions abroad,” Professor Leggat said.
Chong Chyn Chua, a medical intern at Austin Hospital, said there was a lack of awareness among her generation about proper travel healthcare.
The young student, who recently travelled to India, said everyone who travelled overseas – especially to Africa, India or South East Asia – should talk to their GP about their destination and whether there were any prevailing diseases.
“There are certain precautions people should take before travelling and there are many places where they can find useful information,” she said.
Websites like traveldoctor.com.au provide travellers with information about the vaccinations needed for specific countries.
“People are neglecting to get vaccinated partially because it is costly and also due to lack of awareness among the people, especially the younger generation,” Ms Chong said.
“The vaccine for hepatitis A costs about $60 and yellow fever vaccination is about $75.”
Ms Chong said she knew some people were afraid of needles, but they had to understand the benefits of vaccination and the risk of virus infection.
Professor Leggat said travellers might assume they were safe when they stayed in a nice hotel, but anyone could be infected with hepatitis A if they were not careful.
“Travellers can get hepatitis A in a five-star or one-star hotel,” Professor Leggat said.
Ms Chong said some ways to prevent getting infected with hepatitis A were to eat hot food, drink bottled water and peel fruit before eating it.
But there are also downsides to vaccination.
Some people are allergic to certain vaccines.
“There are certain side effects of vaccination, it ranges from localised redness, rashes, slight fever, but these symptoms are uncommon and people usually recover easily from them,” Ms Chong said.
“But it is important that people seek help immediately because some viruses are deadly.”
Common symptoms of mosquito-borne diseases:
• Persistent fever
Ways to prevent mosquito-borne diseases:
• Use insect repellent
• Use a mosquito net if sleeping outdoors
• If weather permits, wear long sleeves and long pants
Sickness has a way of finding those who are having fun.
Yellow Fever Ruins Wedding Trip
Eileen Chong was visiting Dar es Salaam, in Tanzania, when she was infected with yellow fever, a deadly virus spread to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito.
“It was a two-week trip to attend a friend’s wedding and I had so many tours planned, but instead I ended up staying in the hospital for two days and resting in the hotel for another two days,” Ms Chong said.
She said she started to feel nauseous, and then started developing a fever and a headache.
“This happened three days after I went on a safari tour at Mikumi [National Park],” she said.
“At first I thought it was only food poisoning, I didn’t expect it to be so serious.”
She said friends had warned her about yellow fever before her trip but she did not think she could be infected so easily.
“I am definitely getting a vaccination next time before I travel, it is better to be prepared than to waste so many days recovering from an illness.”
For more information on travel vaccinations visit smart-traveller