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Travel Archives • HealthMint

Travel Vaccines – what’s the ‘point’?

By | Immunisation, Lifestyle, Travel

Travel vaccines – what’s the ‘point’?

By: Chantelle | Categories: Travel, vaccination, holiday

 

Who doesn’t love that time of year when you can jet off and escape somewhere with the family? I know I do. However, I was shocked to find that people often spend time planning their hotel, flights, sightseeing and even making meal reservations, but forget the most important thing – to protect themselves against preventable disease.

Why get travel vaccinations?

We are very fortunate to be living in Australia, where the spread of many infectious diseases has been controlled. Unfortunately this isn’t the case worldwide. When we travel we risk exposure to these diseases as well as diseases that don’t occur in Australia. Even in safe destinations, disease outbreaks do occur.

Additionally, some countries may require you to be vaccinated against particular diseases, and may deny you entry at the border if you haven’t done so.

While everyone should look into vaccination before travelling, particular groups are at higher risk of travel related diseases – such as pregnant women, babies and young children, the elderly and those with a weakened immune system.

 

How do vaccines work?

Vaccines work by exposing our bodies to small, safe, inactive doses of bacteria or virus that can cause disease. In response, our white blood cells activate and begin to make antibodies. These antibodies remain in our immune system, and are able to respond immediately if exposed to the active disease in the future. In other words, the vaccine tricks our body into thinking it is under assault, and the immune system responds by making a weapon which is on standby for future infection. The reason why there isn’t a ‘one vaccine fix all’ solution, is that the antibodies created by the body are specific to each particular disease. Further, some diseases, such as influenza (the flu), change enough to make existing antibodies ineffective. This is why we need flu shots every year.

 

Which vaccination will I need?

There isn’t one straight forward answer to this. It depends on your destination, previous vaccinations, the time since your last vaccinations, your age and health.

For travel to areas with high risk of specific infections, immunisation may be required for diseases including:

  • Cholera
  • Hepatitis A
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Meningococcal C
  • Rabies
  • Tick-borne encephalitis
  • Typhoid fever
  • Tuberculosis
  • Yellow fever

 

When should I start the process?

You should visit your doctor 6-8 weeks before departure. This is for two reasons:

(1) your immune system needs time to respond to a vaccination;

(2) some vaccines require more than one injection

 

If you have any further queries or will be travelling soon and haven’t received personal travel health advice, we highly recommend that you book yourself and your family in for a travel consultation. HealthMint offers travel immunisation and consultations in a beautiful and relaxing architecturally designed clinic, and offers simple online booking.

 

P.S. We also highly recommend that you:

  • check the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade ‘Smarttraveller’ website prior to leaving, for country specific advice regarding safety, security, local laws and health and to register your travel plans in case of emergency;
  • have a read of our post on travelling with children
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Tips for Travelling with Children

By | Children's Health, General Wellbeing, Immunisation, Lifestyle, Travel

Planning a fun family trip these holidays? Travelling with children should be a joy, particularly with some forward planning. These tips will help smooth out some of the bumps and ensure you have a pleasant journey. 

 

Stay hydrated 

The recirculated air in aeroplanes can be particularly dehydrating, so it’s important to take regular sips of water. This can also help with motion sickness.

Feed infants at the same rate or pattern as you would at home

Feeding your child more than you normally would can increase their discomfort in flight. This is because it results in more gasses being ingested. Due to cabin pressure changes gas in our digestive system expands causing bloating and discomfort.

Contact the airline in advance

They can help with arranging children’s meals and a bassinet if you have a young baby.

Pack the baby wipes

You never know when they will come in handy to wipe hands, restaurant tables or even toilet seats!

Don’t forget the first aid kit!

I recommend speaking to your doctor about what you may need to take with you. But obvious ones would be panadol, bandaids and antihistamines.

Give your children a personal travel diary before leaving

I still remember how delighted I was as a child to go out and pick a travel diary before each holiday. I would then spend hours on the plane, in the car, and during my downtime detailing my day, where we went, what we saw, what we ate. I even kept wrappers from little chocolates and lollies, stickers, brochures and cards to stick in my diaries. If your kids are of an age where they can write, I highly recommend this. Even if their writing skills are just developing, encourage them to spend time in the aeroplane ‘planning’ their trip, writing in simple words or with pictures. I used to write down where we were heading, which cities, where we were staying and what I was hoping to see and eat there. You could also give them little drawing tasks like to draw aeroplane, the pilot, what sights they think they will see etc.

Use relaxing music

Music is wonderful for setting a mood, and this is no different when the mood you want to create for your children is one of relaxation. Why not load up a relaxing play list onto some iPods to help your children fall asleep while on the move? I used to lug around my purple diskman, usually with my Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera CDs. But I would also carry a CD of chill out music for whenever I wanted to zone out.

Dealing with anxiety / a fear of flying

Some children and adults have a fear of flying, which is very normal and very treatable. However, it’s not something to leave to the last minute – it is encouraged that you approach it well in advance. Your doctor can give advice on coping mechanisms and arrange specialist treatment if necessary.

Another tool which many find useful for anxiety is a product called Rescue RemedyRescue Remedy is a mix of flower remedies known for their calming effects. It comes in a variety of forms – drops, spray and pastilles. I recommend putting drops of Rescue Remedy in a water bottle to sip on while in transit – that way you are helping yourself/your child stay calm as well as hydrated.

Coping with ear pain

There is nothing worse than being exhausted from travel and then experiencing that excruciating pain in your ears during take off and landing. On one trip when my sister and I were little, we were both crying so much from pain that strangers passed chocolates down the aisle to us. It must have been pretty distressing for other travellers to see us like that.

It’s nothing serious, and certainly nothing to worry about. However, it can be very distressing – particularly for children. It occurs because the eustachian tube that runs between the middle ear and pharynx (part of the throat) gets blocked or swollen. When cabin pressure changes rapidly the blocked eustachian tube isn’t able to adjust properly, causing discomfort. This is particularly a problem for children whose eustachian tubes are shorter and more easily blocked than adults or those who have a cold, allergy or sinus condition.

I have since discovered something which means I no longer suffer when flying – Earplanes.  They work by lessening the pressure difference in your ear, allowing your eustachian tube to function more normally. Importantly, they come in a children’s version. Honestly, I never fly without them.

If, however, you or your child suffers from chronic sinus pain or an ongoing cold or virus, it’s important to see a doctor to get to the bottom of it.

 

My sister and I suffered from terrible ear pain during flights when we were younger. Since discovering Ear Planes, we haven’t had to worry!

Travel vaccines

Children are more vulnerable to picking up viruses than adults. It’s important make sure your child’s immunisations are up to date. There are also diseases specific to certain travel destinations – it is exceptionally important to get vaccinated against these before travel. It may also be a requirement of entry in some countries. Keep an eye out for my upcoming post on travel vaccination, and if you need to see a doctor in the mean time you can book here.

When should you see a doctor?

In most instances seeing a doctor prior to travel with children is a good idea. Your doctor will be able to advise you on whether you need any particular vaccinations and provide more detailed travel advice. They will be able to assess and treat your child if they are suffering from blocked ears or any other conditions. They will also be able to suggest specific medications that you may need to take with you.

you can book here to see a HealthMint doctor

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