Travel and other vaccinations

Ahh, travel—that great Aussie pastime of choosing an exotic destination and escaping the daily grind.  While you might be inclined to hop on the next flight to Bali or Thailand and begin your sunny sojourn, there are precautions you must take by getting the proper vaccinations in advance.

Which ones do I need?

With so many diseases to avoid, it’s difficult to know exactly which ones are essential to  combat with vaccinations.  That’s why it’s advisable to consult your doctor six to eight weeks prior to travelling for advice on the most essential jabs you’ll need.

Some vaccinations require repeat doses administered at set intervals. Your doctor will also determine which vaccinations are recommended based on your  age, underlying medical condition, vaccination history – and where you’ll be travelling.

As a rule, there are routine vaccines the Victoria Government Better Health Channel  recommends everyone get, whether travelling or not.  These include influenza, rubella, diphtheria, measles, mumps and polio—shots that most of us have had at one stage or another and that may only require boosters.

However, when foreign travel is on the cards, you must consider the high risk of disease that comes with it by getting jabs for specific risks relative to each country. These diseases can include hepatitis B, typhoid, meningococcal, yellow fever and cholera.

Can I get more than one vaccine at a time?

If the idea of multiple injections makes your head spin, there are some combination vaccines, though limited in number.

While there are combo vaccines like DTaP, MMR and DTap-Hib protecting against a multitude of diseases, these shots are generally administered to infants, usually before the age of two.

For adults, there is the Twinrix® vaccine containing the Hepatitis A and B strains.

Can I claim a rebate for them?

Unfortunately, Medicare will only cover the consultation fees incurred at your clinic plus vaccinations for non travel-related purposes such as influenza.  For any travel-related vaccines, you’ll be out of pocket anywhere from $45 to $85 per jab and more for newer vaccines.

If you’ve got private health insurance, many funds will cover travel vaccinations under their extras cover. Benefits vary and are payable on the amount above the general patient PBS threshold – $39.50 in 2018.

How important are the follow-up doses?

Although most vaccinations from your childhood are effective for life, many travel vaccines do require boosters to maintain protective immunity.

The first series of shots you get for any given disease is called the primary series and may comprise many booster doses at the start to achieve immunity against that disease.

Other vaccines work to achieve immunity upon the first jab but require boosters at regular intervals.  These intervals vary in time with each vaccine, as can be seen in the following list of common travel vaccines:

  • Influenza – every year
  • Typhoid injection – every 2 years
  • Oral typhoid – every 5 years
  • Yellow Fever – every 10 years
  • Meningitis – every 5 years
  • Pneumonia – every 5 years (2 doses max)

If you’re unsure about the timings of your last shots and when you need your boosters, it’s best to check with you doctor to ensure you’re up-to-date before takeoff.  Vaccinations are safe and necessary precautions that will help ensure a healthy journey. So get those jabs and enjoy your trip.

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Article by: Defence Health