Travelling overseas? Don't forget the vaccinations and medications.

With vacation time just around the corner, many are making plans to fly off to different destinations. If you’re heading to exotic destinations like India and South America, don’t forget those travel vaccinations and medications. Planning a safe trip is not just about buying travel insurance. It’s also about being well prepared, health-wise.

5 things you should do before you travel

  1. Look up health information that applies to your destination

  2. Do some research on th​e destination. On websites like Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation​ (WHO), you can find out what diseases you might be at risk for (like malaria in Peru, yellow fever in Sub-Saharan Africa), vaccine recommendations and what medicines you should pack.

  3. ​Schedule an appoi​ntment with a doctor

  4. The best vaccination advice will com​e fro​m your doctor. Schedule an appointment four to six weeks before you leave Singapore.

    Dr Limin Wijaya​, Senior​ Consultant, Department of Infectious Diseases​, Singapore Ge​neral Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth​ group, explains, “A proper medical consultation will reveal the type of vaccinations you need based on your health conditions, past vaccinations and holiday destination.”

    Plan in advance as some vaccinations require doses spread over a few weeks and take time to become effective. But if it’s a last-minute trip, it is still possible to head down to the doctor’s clinic and try to minimise your health risks.

  5. ​​Clear your medical doubts

  6. At the clinic, check your health concerns with your doctor. If you are unsure whether you can continue with vaccinations since you are pregnant, already feeling ill or on antibiotics, ask your doctor.

    “Generally, it is okay to undergo certain vaccinations even if you are pregnant, suffering from mild colds or on antibiotics,” says Dr Wijaya. “However, those with a high fever of over 38 degrees Celsius should delay the vaccinations.” Live vaccines cannot be given to pregnant woman and those who are immunocompromised.

  7. Decide on the type of vaccination you need – and get it!

  8. After the consultation, decide what type of vaccinations you need. Sometimes, you may not even need the jabs.

    Always keep a record of your vaccinations. In some cases, you may need to show proof of vaccination at your destination country. For instance, yellow fever vaccination is a must for travel to sub-Saharan Africa and South America.

  9. Have any post-travel health concerns?

  10. If you think you’ve brought home more than just beautiful memories, it’s time to make a trip to the doctor.

    Dr Wijaya says, “This is especially crucial if you’re experiencing a fever and have travelled in a malaria zone, or if you’ve been scratched or bitten by an animal. If you’re feeling unwell, seek medical attention immediately.

Must-have jabs b​efore you fly

Many travel-related diseases are vaccine-preventable. Some common vaccines are listed below. Check with your doctor which, if any, of these vaccines you may need before you travel.

VaccineWhat can it protect you from and when you might need it
Hepatitis AA routine vaccination against viral infection involving the liver that usually requires two shots. Good to have no matter where you’re going, especially if you will be in developing countries.  
Hepatitis BSame as above, but requires three shots.
TyphoidA vaccination against a bacterium that produces severe, life-threatening systemic illness which can include diarrhoea. Recommended for places like Africa, Asia and South America.
Japanese encephalitisA recommended vaccination if you will be spending lots of time in rural areas in Asia. This disease is spread by mosquito bites.
RabiesA three-dose vaccination against an acute viral infection of the nervous system, which is spread through the bite of an infected animal.
Yellow feverA vaccination against a viral illness caught from the bite of an infected mosquito. Required for travel to certain places such as sub-Saharan Africa and South America. You will need to carry proof of the vaccination with you.
TetanusMost of us have received this vaccination against the bacterium Clostridium tetani in school. Tetanus bacteria are present in soil and manure and may be introduced through open wounds such as a puncture wound, burn or scratch. If it’s been over 10 years since your last tetanus vaccination, you might need another shot. A combination vaccine containing tetanus can be given, such as Diphtheria, Tetanus and Pertussis (Tdap) vaccine.
InfluenzaRecommended for yearly vaccination.

The SGH Travel Clinic is run by specialists from the Department of Infectious Diseases. It is a designated Yellow Fever Centre. The team of doctors and nurses will offer comprehensive tr​avel advice and country-specific recommendations prior to your trip.

Ref: Q15​