Travel Vaccines, by Dr S Arun-Castro

If you are touring somewhere exotic there may be a chance you need to organise vaccines as an individual or as a crew. Most countries’ childhood vaccine programmes will cover you for the most common infectious diseases, but you might not be covered for infections that are more region specific. 

For up-to-date advice, the United States’ Centre for Communicable Disease Control’s online ‘Yellow Book’ (last updated 2020) is the bible for travel vaccine advice for the international traveller. Similarly, advice can be found in the UK Department of Health’s ‘Green Book’, which is also freely available online. 

Practically, what’s probably easiest is to get a consult from travel medicine clinic or your family physician or GP to make sure you’re adequately covered.

Travel vaccine checklist:

1. What vaccines have I already had?  Do I have any records to hand?

2. Do I have any medical conditions that put me at risk? (Conditions with related immune compromise.)

3. Do I take immune suppressing medications (steroids, methotrexate, azathioprine, tacrolimus, chemotherapy etc).

4. Is my travelling predominately in urban areas or will I be venturing to more rural areas?

5. Does the country I’m travelling to require a vaccine passport, E.g., Yellow Fever Certificates

6. If I need a travel vaccines-how soon before travelling do I need it for it to be effective

7. Will in need a course of vaccine shots?

8. Are there any medications supplies worth taking out with me depending on how off-piste/rural I’m going e.g. anti-malaria tablets, oral-rehydration supplements or anti-diarrhoeal agents (e.g. loperamide) for episodes of diarrhoea

9. Do I know what my health insurance covers?

Online resources you may find helpful include: