Holiday planning can be a lot of fun. Choosing a destination, finding a great deal on accommodation, booking exciting tours and even picking out the perfect wardrobe – these are the things that make travelling so enjoyable.
But as every traveller knows, planning a holiday isn’t all fun and games. They may not be nice to think about, but vaccinations are an important part of preparing to travel overseas.
In this quick guide to travel vaccines, we look at where to find the most up-to-date health advice, some common travel vaccinations and the requirements for popular destinations.
Do you need vaccines to travel?
The rules surrounding travel vaccinations can be confusing, especially because they’re frequently changing. They can also differ from traveller to traveller, depending on things like your age, location, existing medical conditions, vaccination history and season of travel.
It can be helpful to think of vaccinations in two categories:
- Required: Certain countries will require you to show evidence of these vaccinations before allowing you to enter.
- Recommended: These are vaccines that are recommended to keep you safe while travelling.
For example, several countries require a yellow fever vaccination certificate if you’re travelling from high-risk areas. Other countries only recommend a yellow fever vaccination and will allow you entry without one. To make matters more confusing, some cruises also impose their own mandatory immunisations!
Where to find travel vaccination information
With all of these conflicting requirements, where can you go to find the most accurate and up-to-date information?
The SafeTravel website is a great resource where you can find health information, travel advisory warnings and useful tips for your destination. It’s also useful to discuss your travel plans with your GP.
Where to get travel vaccines
Your GP should be able to source and administer most common travel vaccines, however, there are also specialist travel medical centres where you can get your immunisations.
Five common travel vaccinations
Let’s take a look at five common travel vaccinations, countries where they’re required or recommended, and the general cost of immunisation.
1. Hepatitis A and B
Hepatitis is a viral infection causing liver inflammation, with symptoms including fatigue, fever, headaches, vomiting and abdominal pain. The illness is spread through contaminated food and water and person-to-person contact, which is why it’s widely recommended for lots of countries.
Many New Zealanders receive Hepatitis vaccinations as a child for free under the National Immunisation Schedule (NIS). If you haven’t been immunised already, prices can vary depending on the formula, where you purchase and who administers the immunisation.
2. Japanese encephalitis
Japanese encephalitis is a mosquito-borne virus that causes inflammation of the brain, with severe cases suffering symptoms like disorientation, tremors and even paralysis. Although it’s a rare condition, it’s recommended for travellers spending more than a month in rural areas of high-risk countries, particularly in Asia. Vaccinations are available at specialist travel medicine clinics and also through your GP.
Rabies is another viral disease that causes brain inflammation, and is most commonly transmitted from infected animals. Vaccination against rabies is typically recommended, not required. However, your GP may assess your exposure to the virus depending on your destination and type of travel, and advise whether it’s necessary for your trip.
Vaccination against typhoid is often recommended for New Zealanders travelling to developing countries. The bacterial infection is caused by contact with contaminated food and water, and causes symptoms like fever, migraines, stomach pain and loss of appetite.
5. Yellow fever
Yellow fever is a mosquito-borne disease that causes fever, headache, muscle pain, vomiting and jaundice; a yellowing of the skin that gives the illness its name. Vaccination against the disease may be mandatory in some Central American and African countries, depending on your origin and past travel.
Vaccines for popular destinations
Travelling soon? Here are the current vaccination requirements for three popular destinations.
Do you need vaccines for the USA?
It’s recommended that travellers ensure their measles vaccinations are up-to-date. New Zealanders are not required to show evidence of vaccinations before entry into the USA.
Do you need vaccines for Fiji?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all travellers to Fiji should ensure their measles vaccinations are up to date, following an outbreak of the illness in the country. Hepatitis, typhoid and yellow fever vaccines are also recommended.
Do you need vaccines for Japan?
It’s recommended that travellers to Japan vaccinate themselves against Japanese encephalitis, measles and rubella. There are no required vaccinations to enter the country.
It’s important to keep in mind that these recommendations are subject to change, so always visit the SafeTravel website when planning your trip, and talk to your GP for advice.
Getting sick overseas
Whether it’s an upset stomach or a bout of the flu, nothing can spoil your travel experience faster than getting sick overseas.
Unfortunately, it’s not only the emotional and physical cost of illness that can hurt travellers who are unprepared. Medical care can be extremely expensive in many countries, leaving travellers with immensely high bills. In fact, one of our customers had a medical claim of $370,000 after falling ill on a cruise ship in the USA.
That’s why travel insurance that includes comprehensive medical cover is so important. Our award-winning insurance features unlimited medical and evacuation cover* so you can travel with confidence, knowing you’re protected from unexpected medical emergencies.
*Subject to terms, conditions and general exclusions.
The content of this article is general and provided for information purposes only. It is not intended to be medical advice. Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) doesn’t guarantee or warrant the accuracy, completeness or currency of the articles.
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