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FREE disease information

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How long before travel do I need to get my shots?

In line with international recommendations, WORLDWISE recommends travellers make an appointment with one of our Centres, or our OnLINE Travellers health Clinics, at least 8 weeks before travel. Some vaccinations require a number of doses, and is good to start them well before you travel. This is also a good time to check out any medications that you may need to prevent malaria.

If you have not finalized your itinerary, then having a consultation with us may help you decide because we travel a lot ourselves and may be able to make some recommendations about where to go. You also need to know that it is never too late to get updates or advice for your travelling. We are here to help you get as much information as you can for a safe and healthy trip overseas.

How long do the vaccinations last for?

Have a look at the chart below and that will give you an idea of how long they last, provided that you have had the FULL course of injections.

  • Chicken Pox 10 years, or longer
  • Cholera (oral vaccine) about 2 years
  • Diphtheria 10 years
  • Flu vaccine (Fluvax) about 1 year
  • Hepatitis A (Vaqta / Havrix/Twinrix) 30 years (possibly longer)
  • Hepatitis B (HBVax II/Engerix B/Twinrix) life
  • Japanese B Encephalitis 2 - 3 years
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella 15 years, or longer
  • Meningitis (Menomune/Mencevax) 2-3 years
  • Pneumonia (Pneumovax) 5 years, or longer
  • Polio (Sabin) 10 years, or longer
  • Polio (IPV) 10 years, or longer
  • Rabies (pre exposure) 1 - 10 years
  • Tetanus 10 years, or longer
  • Typhoid 2 - 3 years
  • Yellow Fever 10 years

What side effects could I get after the vaccinations?

Vaccinations are now so pure that they are not so likely to cause reactions or side-effects, as they used to do. They tend to be greatly purified and that part of the vaccine that used to cause unpleasant reactions has been eliminated. After the vaccinating, WORLDWISE recommends minimal sport and recreational activities but folk can work, drive a car, and play sport. These days, vaccination is unlikely to leave a scar.

Any vaccine can cause a variety of reactions, most of which are uncommonly rare. The following are some common reactions to vaccinations:

1. Sore, red arm: Vaccinations may cause a sore arm for a few days. Usually, this is all that the average traveller will feel. Nevertheless, tetanus vaccination can definitely aches for a few days post-vaccination though the shot itself is usually quite painless. With tetanus, a traveller may also develop a lump where the injection was given. This may persist for a few weeks or months.

For pain relief and redness after an injection, WORLDWISE recommends placing an icepack on the affected area. Have some paracetamol to ease any discomfort.

2. Itchiness: Some vaccines may be given into the skin (Intradermal) or under the skin (Subcutaneous). They could cause itchiness at the injection site and/or a small surface lump that may persist for weeks or months. Such a reaction will ultimately disappear.

3. Fainting: Some may faint after a vaccination. This is not unusual, and is not a cause for alarm. If you have a past history of fainting after injections, then tell your travel health professional, for you may need to lie down during vaccination and for up to twenty minutes afterwards.

4. Allergic reactions (Anaphylaxis): Allergic reactions are rare but can be very serious. They are more likely to occur in those who have a previous allergy; for example to eggs. This is the reason that the Yellow Fever vaccine is done at special centres. so that you can be monitored after your vaccinations. After vaccinations, notify your health professional immediately if you feel:

  • faint (especially on standing )
  • sudden dizziness
  • suddenly tired
  • itchy
  • develop a rash, especially over your body distant from the injection site
  • warm
  • short of breath OR you suddenly develop a cough or a wheeze
  • swelling of the throat
  • swellings of your throat, face, hands or limbs

Symptoms usually develop within 30 minutes of vaccination, and this is the need to wait for a time after vaccinations. Sometimes, however, allergic symptoms and signs may appear up to 10 days after vaccinations. This is particularly so with Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine. If you develop one or more of the above symptoms within 10 days, immediately seek medical help.

5 . Fevers and feeling sick after specific vaccines:
Yellow fever
vaccine may cause headaches, a slight fever, muscle aches and tiredness in about 5% of persons, starting 3-7 days after vaccination.
MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
may cause a fever in about 10% of those who have the vaccination, 5-10 days after vaccination.
The influenza flu vaccine is 'dead' and cannot cause the flu. If you develop a fever or become unwell after any of these vaccinations, then WORLDWISE suggests that you can the health professional gave you the vaccines.

What if I have a cold?
It is safe to be vaccinated while you have a runny nose, sore throat or cough. You may need to check this out with your doctor or nurse. WORLDWISE recommends that you delay any vaccination if you have a fever over 39°C, if you are sick in bed or you just 'don't feel up to it today'!

Can vaccines weaken my immune system?
No, there is absolutely no evidence for this, in fact it has been shown that a number of vaccines on the same day can increase an immune response. Remember that we travel health professionals are not here to PUSH vaccines into you but to recommend them if you need them for your safe travel. We only recommend vaccinations are only recommended when the risk of the disease is far greater than any risk from the vaccine.

Does having alcohol after vaccinations do any harm?
If you are having certain vaccinations (like Japanese Encephalitis vaccine), you are advised to avoid 'excessive' alcohol for 2 days after each dose. No problems with having alcohol in the 48 hours after other vaccinations.

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