29 June 2022
Dear Passenger, Safe Travels. Regards, Specialist Medical Clinic
Why should you visit a travel medicine specialist and when to do it?
Travel Medicine is concerned with keeping you safe and healthy when you travel. Travel Medicine Specialists are experts in a wide range of disciplines which enable them to assess travel-related risks. They can share information and advice regarding travel-related illnesses and the risk factors of infectious and non-infectious diseases. They will also know which vaccines you need to enter the country, as well as those vaccines and medicines recommended to keep you healthy and allow you to enjoy your trip to the full.
When do you need to see a travel medicine specialist?
Speaking to a travel medicine specialist probably won’t be necessary for a business trip, a city break in a developed country, or a package holiday. However, a consultation may be important when you’re going on a long trip, travelling to rural areas, backpacking or staying in a hostel/camp site. A consultation is also advised if you’re working as an aid worker, in a medical setting, or will be coming into contact with animals during your trip.
The role of a travel medicine specialist is to reduce your likelihood of becoming ill during travel.
Think of them as educators, who can tell you how to protect yourself against common travel-related illnesses. They can answer questions such as how to protect yourself against malaria, advise on what is safe to eat and how to avoid contaminated water, meaning you don’t fall foul of the very common but deeply unpleasant traveller’s diarrhoea. They can even advise you on how to manage or prevent jet lag, altitude related illnesses and motion-sickness. They can also review your health and identify any specific risk factors related to your age or existing conditions and help you to prepare for your trip.
They will of course check which vaccines are required or recommended depending on where you’re visiting. Common vaccines include Hepatitis A, typhoid and yellow fever. A travel medicine specialist will be able to administer these for you and book you in for any follow up jabs, or boosters as well.
There are also some excellent resources out there to inform you on what you need and what is recommended for your trip. If you’re planning your trip, but it’s still some time away, we’d recommend taking a look at the NaTHNaC website https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/ . It has lots of excellent advice and information plus a list of destinations with the vaccinations required for entry, as well as any vaccines or medications which are recommended due to diseases which are prevalent in the country you are travelling to.
How far in advance of travel should you book an appointment?
It’s important to think ahead and plan your consultation with a travel medicine specialist in good time. The NHS recommends making an appointment to see a travel medicine specialist at least eight weeks before you travel. This may seem like a very long time in advance, however some vaccines need to be given well in advance to allow your body to develop immunity, and others involve a number of doses spread over several weeks or months.
Are there any cases when you shouldn’t have vaccines?
People with immune deficiencies may be advised not to have certain vaccinations. For example, if you have a condition or are receiving treatment which can affect your immune system, or you have recently had a bone marrow or organ transplant, certain vaccines may be dangerous. But your specialist, GP or travel specialist can advise you on the best course of action in your case.
It’s important that you inform your travel specialist if you are pregnant, you think you might be pregnant or you’re breastfeeding, so that they can give you the right advice. However, in many cases, it’s unlikely a vaccine given while you’re pregnant or breastfeeding will cause problems for the baby.
What is the difference between routine, recommended, and required vaccines?
Routine vaccines are those childhood and adult vaccinations which are recommended for everyone, or which apply if you have a particular health condition or risk factor. You have most of these when you’re a baby or child, but there are others including the flu or COVID vaccine.
A required vaccine is one that travellers must have in order to enter a country, based on that country’s regulations. Yellow fever, meningococcal, and polio vaccines may be required by certain countries.
Recommended vaccines are those that health professionals recommend travellers receive to protect their health from travel-related illnesses, even if they aren’t required for entry.
Our GP, Dr Patrick Nerney heads our Travel Clinic, supported by nurse Laura Azuaga, who is now also undertaking a diploma in Travel Health. The travel clinic specialises in the practice of travel medicine, its main focus being the delivery of preventative medical care, administration of vaccinations against tropical diseases including yellow fever and typhoid fever, and the prescription of medications to prevent malaria.
Our Travel clinic is available to patients who are embarking on trips abroad for leisure and business purposes as well as visiting friends and family.
We can offer guidance and recommendations on the best options for our patients. We will consider the traveller’s medical history, itinerary, planned activities and other factors that may impact on preventative recommendations.
Please contact us to book an appointment with the travel clinic, to find out what you need for your trip.