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Off We Go!

Vaccination is a must when travelling to Asia on holiday but Europe is thought to be a safe destination. Well, look at the map and think twice. Some nasty diseases are spread all over the world, including the Mediterranean – right next door to us.

Hepatitis A and B infections are relatively frequent just across the border in Italy, Croatia or Bulgaria. Type B spreads with blood and bodily fluids, while type A viruses use a more accessible pathway: unwashed fruit and veg and unhygienic food can easily pass on the disease. When travelling abroad it is a safe bet to vaccinate against typhoid fever, yellow fever, encephalitis and other contagious diseases. You don’t need to spend hours googling what danger lurks at your destination – an hour-long consultation with our specialist solves the riddle. Just bring along your vaccination record, and the doctor will mix your vaccine cocktail and make up a jab plan based on your medical record, physical condition and itinerary. There are standard combination vaccines that almost everyone gets as an infant – such as DPT, protecting against diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and polio, or MMR, against measles, mumps and rubeola. However, immunity wears off over time and it is advisable to have a booster vaccination every ten years or so. Now may be the time to do so, as part of your holiday vaccination plan. If you never had chickenpox as a child, for example, you may very well be at risk travelling to a holiday resort with hundreds of children around, so it is worth considering immunisation against varicella. Timing is important. Consult your vaccination specialist at least 5 weeks prior to your travels, as some repeat vaccines and boosters need to be administered at least 4 weeks apart.

Good to know

- Certain countries – mostly in Africa and South America – require a vaccination certificate for entry. There are regional variations for vaccination within the same country – e.g. yellow fever is a threat in certain areas of Brazil but not along the coastline.
- Regulations get updated as well. Yellow fever vaccination normally had to be boosted every ten years but according to the latest WHO report even a single vaccination gives life-long immunity.
- Contrary to urban legend there are only a few vaccines containing live viruses – e.g. measles, rubeola, mumps, yellow fever and varicella – that make you feel slightly ill afterwards. That is why you have to wait at least 4 weeks between vaccinations.

- There is effective medication to protect against malaria. The latest pills have none of the serious side effects associated with malaria medication and it is recommended to take them only in endemic areas when the mosquitoes are swarming. Do your homework to find out which malaria strains are present where you travel and choose the right medicine.

Doctor’s order

Dr. Zsolt Pintér paediatrician

Vaccination is a good start for a healthy holiday but there are other preventive measures for your safe travels. Wash and sanitise your hands frequently; sleep in an air-conditioned room or under a mosquito net; wash fruit and vegetables in a plastic bag filled with Neomagnol dissolved in water, then rinse with mineral water. Avoid ice cubes as they could be made from plain tap water.
It is useful to have in your travel kit some generic pain killer and anti-febrile medicine, as well as expectorants, cough medicines, throat lozenges and nasal spray to alleviate the respiratory symptoms of air travel. Don’t forget your regular medication and bring something against gastroenteritis, insect bites and allergy. Probiotic supplements and isotonic drinks might come in handy too.