Vaccines are considered to be the most effective medical intervention to reduce the transmissibility of infectious diseases and represent a remarkable success in the history of medicine as they have prevented and, in some cases, eradicated a number of infectious diseases.
In addition, vaccines are particularly important for international travellers, both for the health of the individual and society. Routine immunisation programmes protect most of the world's children from a number of infectious diseases that used to claim millions of lives each year.
For international travellers, vaccination offers the possibility of avoiding dangerous infections, not present in their own country, which can be contracted abroad.
It is therefore important for travellers to inform themselves about the health risks of their destination and, with the support of a specialist, activate appropriate vaccination prophylaxis in order to minimise exposure to endemic diseases. Depending on the travel destination, some may be mandatory vaccinations, while others remain recommended vaccinations. In other cases, vaccination is only compulsory when arriving from a country considered to be at risk, for example Yellow Fever.
The risk of contracting a disease depends on the local prevalence of that disease and on factors such as the individual's immune status, general health, gender, age, itinerary, duration and style of travel. This is why it is a good idea to have a Pre-Travel Consultation with a specialist in a Travel Medicine Clinic before departure. Based on the individual risk assessment of a given traveller, the specialist can advise on the need for pharmacological prophylaxis and provide advice on appropriate behavioural measures. For this reason, it is important to seek an expert medical advice consultation, in order to make international travel safe while minimising the likelihood of exposure to infection.
Some of the recommended vaccinations against specific diseases may require a longer time, such as the hepatitis vaccine, which requires several doses to be administered at intervals. Other vaccinations such as cholera, Japanese encephalitis, yellow fever, typhoid fever, meningococcal meningitis and rabies, on the other hand, have a faster administration cycle. So, getting information in good time is the winning strategy for a safe start (we recommend contacting us six to eight weeks before departure to book a consultation).
The individual's immune response following vaccination varies with the type of vaccine, the number of doses required and whether the individual has previously been vaccinated for the same disease.
For this reason, it is recommended that travellers book a consultation with the Travel Medicine specialist four weeks before departure in order to complete each vaccination cycle in order to confer immunity. However, even for a last-minute departure there are fast-track protocols for some vaccines that provide the opportunity to obtain fast immunisation.
The list below shows the diseases for which specialists recommend vaccination, given the high risk of contracting them worldwide:
- Diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis
- Hepatitis A and B
- Meningococcus ACWY and B
- Measles, mumps, rubella
Here at Ambimed we summarise them in The Good Traveller Vaccinations. For travellers to tropical destinations, the most common endemic diseases for which there is a vaccine to protect the traveller are:
- Japanese encephalitis
- Tick-borne encephalitis
- Yellow fever
- Typhoid fever (Typhus)
- Meningococcal meningitis
Areas in the world requiring compulsory vaccinations
There are mandatory vaccinations required to enter or re-enter certain areas of the world.
Compulsory vaccinations include yellow fever, which is compulsory for travellers to certain tropical countries and has become a recommended vaccination for travel to neighbouring countries; the WHO oversees recommended and compulsory vaccinations as an international body. In order to travel, they are required to have the Yellow Vaccination Booklet, an official international document that contains the status of Yellow Fever coverage and recalls.
The countries where the disease is endemic are those with Aedes-type mosquitoes (which also transmit other diseases such as Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue) or Haemagogus; these vectors, immune to the disease, transmit it through bites on uncovered skin. Infected travellers importing the virus from such countries may lead to the spread of the virus and its establishment, resulting in a permanent risk of infection for the population.
On our website, you will find information for each world destination, including the epidemiological-health status of the country of destination, health recommendations from the main national and international control bodies (WHO for example), including country-specific international vaccinations.
The list of countries is produced after consultation with the states involved and technical input from the WHO. States are frequently reviewed to confirm or update each country's requirements for international travellers.