MedAssistant provides fully comprehensive travel advice and vaccinations within our Glasgow clinic. All consultations, vaccines and medicines are administered by experienced travel health professionals. Your consultation will include advice about your chosen destination and pre existing medical conditions, which are then tailored to your individual needs.
It does not matter if you are travelling for a vacation, business, or any other reason. You should always be aware of the health risks that can occur when you travel outside the country. Travel vaccinations will not only help to keep you healthy, they will help you avoid putting unnecessary pressure on the healthcare system where you are visiting. It should be noted that vaccinations can require more than one dose or a certain amount of time to be fully effective. Make sure you get any travel vaccinations at least four weeks prior to your trip.
Here are the vaccinations that you should consider getting before you travel outside of the country and why they are important:
Altitude sickness occurs when a person’s body does not receive enough oxygen due to failure to acclimate properly to their environment. While there is the same amount of oxygen in the air at altitude that there is on the ground, the oxygen pressure drops drastically. This means the lungs are not able to take in the amount of oxygen that is needed for normal function. There is a vaccine available for altitude sickness called Acetazolamide (Diamox).
Acetazolamide (Diamox) will assist in acclimating to new altitudes because it prevents acidosis of the blood and keeps breathing stimulated. It is always best to vaccinate against altitude sickness because even if you have not gotten it previously, that does not mean you will not get it on your current trip.
Chickenpox is a highly infectious virus. Most people have chickenpox as children if they are not vaccinated against it. Adults who get chickenpox are prone to severe symptoms and further complications. The chickenpox vaccine is a live vaccine, so it is not suitable for every individual, but it offers 98% protection in adults. Two injections are given four to eight weeks apart, and there is no need for a booster.
Cholera is a bacterial infection of the intestines that is typically found in areas where there are a lot of people with poor hygiene facilities, or areas affected by floods. Most travellers have minimal risk of contracting cholera, but the risk is much greater to emergency and health workers. There is a vaccine available for cholera that is taken orally in two doses one to six weeks apart. Drinking only safe water and practising good personal hygiene will reduce the risk of contracting cholera, as well as avoiding raw or undercooked seafood.
Diphtheria is a bacterial disease which is spread through exhaled droplets, but occasionally through lesions on the skin that are infected. This disease can be fatal if left untreated. A traveller is most at risk of contracting diphtheria when they are mixing closely with the local population of a developing country. If a traveller believes they will be at risk of contracting diphtheria, they should make sure they have had a diphtheria vaccine within the last ten years. The diphtheria vaccine is included in the tetanus booster that is typically given every ten years.
Hepatitis A is a virus that is spread through contaminated food and water or close physical contact with someone who is infected. It affects the liver and is common in developing countries with poor sanitation or unsafe drinking water. Hepatitis A is preventable by consuming only safe food and water and getting vaccinated. One Hepatitis A vaccine is valid for one year, and one booster vaccine is valid for over twenty-five years.
Much like Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B is a viral disease that affects the liver. Hepatitis B is spread through contact with blood and body fluids from a contaminated person. The infection rate of Hepatitis B is very high in Asia, Africa, and China, and contracting Hepatitis B can lead to an increased risk of liver cancer. The Hepatitis B vaccine is a three dose course that is given over a three week to six month period, and a booster is required after five years.
HPV stands for Human Papillomavirus, which is a group of viruses that is mainly spread through sexual contact with an infected person. HPV can lead to many health issues including several types of cancer and genital warts. HPV vaccination protects against several strains of viruses but not all, so it is important to use barrier methods during sex. Three doses of HPV vaccine are required after fifteen years of age and there are no boosters necessary.
Japanese Encephalitis is transmitted through bites from infected Culex mosquitoes, which are found in rural farming areas in Asia. They are most active at night, and preventing mosquito bites is important. If a traveller is going to spend a lot of time in rural areas they should consider getting vaccinated. This vaccine requires two doses given twenty-eight days apart or an accelerated dose of two injections given seven days apart depending on suitability.
Malaria is a very common parasite infection found in tropical areas. It is transmitted via mosquitoes which tend to be most active at night, so avoiding insect bites is important. Malaria must be diagnosed through a blood test, and if left untreated it can be fatal. The appropriate antimalarial tablets depend on the traveller’s destination, medical history, and budget, but they are almost always recommended for at-risk areas.
Meningococcal Meningitis bacteria is transmitted through direct person-to-person contact and by inhaling infected droplets. Meningitis is a severe infection that can affect the brain. Parts of Sub-Saharan Africa see seasonal outbreaks, and ACWY vaccination is recommended if a traveller is going to mix with the local populace. A single vaccine lasts for three to five years, and this duration is dependent on the visa requirements of the country the traveller is visiting.
MMR stands for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella, which are viral illnesses that are spread via coughing and sneezing. They are present globally and are a risk to all travellers. A traveller should ensure that they received two doses of MMR vaccine as a child, otherwise it is recommended that they get the vaccine as soon as possible. There is no booster required for MMR vaccine.
Polio is a disease that affects the central nervous system and is usually spread through contaminated food and water. It has been eradicated in many countries but some African and Asian countries still experience outbreaks. If a traveller was previously vaccinated as a child, a booster is recommended at ten year intervals if they are travelling to a country where polio is endemic.
Rabies is a virus that is carried in the saliva of infected mammals. It is usually spread to humans via a bite, but even a lick on an open wound is enough to transmit the virus. Rabies is fatal if left untreated, so medical attention and vaccinations are essential. If a traveller believes that it will be difficult to get the proper treatment for rabies at their destination, then it is worth being vaccinated ahead of travel. Rabies vaccination takes three to four weeks to complete.
Tetanus is caused by a bacteria that is present in soil around the world. Disease occurs when the bacteria gets into a wound, and it leads to uncontrollable muscle spasms and even death. A traveller should ensure that they have had a tetanus vaccine within the last ten years.
This type of encephalitis is spread by the bite of an infected tick, or in rare cases by drinking unpasteurized milk. A traveller may be at risk if they plan to spend a long amount of time in grassy or wooded areas, especially in spring and autumn. Avoiding tick bites by removing ticks promptly if they are found on the skin is critical. A course of two vaccine doses over one to three months is advised, with a booster required in five months to one year.
Tuberculosis, also called TB, is mainly spread through infected respiratory droplets and rarely in unpasteurised milk. The BCG vaccine will provide limited protection against TB but is advised only for healthcare workers and those under sixteen years of age. It is typically only given if the traveller will be travelling for more than three months to high risk countries.
Typhoid is a disease spread through food and water contaminated by faeces. It is common in areas with poor food hygiene or bad wastewater treatment. It is possible to contract typhoid by eating shellfish, raw fruit, or raw vegetables that have been fertilised by human faeces. The best way to prevent getting typhoid is by consuming only safe food and water, and by getting a vaccination that will last up to three years.
Spread by infected mosquitoes, Yellow Fever is endemic to parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and South America. It has a 50% mortality rate during outbreaks, and it is recommended that travellers get vaccinated against it. Some countries even require proof of vaccination against Yellow Fever before entry. A single vaccination and certificate now lasts a lifetime for most individuals and is only available at registered Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres.