Travel vaccinations, health and visas
Travel vaccinations can be very daunting, there is always the question of do I or don't I? To help you make the decision, here are a few of the main vaccinations, simplified for you, as a lot of them have weird and wonderful names. This should help with the wheres and whens, but as always contact your travel doctor or nurse at the earliest time, to ensure you are up to date and well covered. At least 4 weeks in advance is recommended, but don't be put off if you find you have less time than this.
Influenza is one of the most preventable illnesses, that can be easily kept at bay by a quick vaccine. It circulates all year round in the tropics, so best to have before you head away. It is also very important to be up to date with other routine vaccinations such as measles and tetanus.
The Yellow fever vaccination is recommended for travel to most of Africa and South America. It will depend on where you have travelled before, but border officials may want to look at your yellow fever vaccination certificate before allowing you to enter their country and if you don’t have one, you may be quarantined or vaccinated on the spot- neither of these are recommended! So along with checking if your destination country requires you to have a visa, make sure that your return country doesn't also require it. For example if entering back to Australia within 6 days after having been to a Yellow Fever area such as South America, you'll need to show proof of vaccination.
As this is one of the few live vaccinations used (containing a weakened virus) we recommend that people with impaired immune systems should check with there travel nurse, as they may not be able to have the vaccine, so should therefore avoid that country. It is not uncommon to feel a little unwell a few days after the vaccination, some seriously, so don’t leave it until the last minute.
Hepatitis A and typhoid are infections found in countries where the water and sanitation are not up to our western standards. The hepatitis A injection is given in 2 stages, the first one will protect you for up to 1 year and then a second dose about 6 months later, will give you more long term protection. If you are travelling to any areas other than Europe, North America, Japan and Australia we would recommend for you to have a hepatitis A vaccination. You can also have a vaccination of hepatitis A combined with Typhoid, which again is recommended if travelling to countries such as India and surrounds or Samoa.
If you are travelling and are planning to be around animals, then a series of rabies vaccinations are highly recommended, for countries where the disease is prevalent. This consists of a series of 3 doses of rabies before you travel, then if you get bitten it is less stressful. This should be seen as a long-term investment, as you will be ready for bites on future trips also.
There are injections to protect against other illnesses and viruses such as meningococcal meningitis which should be considered for young people spending time with others in crowded situations, or if you are spending time in parts of Africa. If travelling in rural parts of Asia the Japanese encephalitis vaccine may be sensible. Finally there is an oral cholera vaccine that reduces the risk of traveller’s diarrhoea somewhat.
It is also important to remember while there are vaccines to protect against some things, for other things there are not, such as malaria, dengue fever and accidents etc. So as well as your vaccinations, you need lots of advice, insurance and repellents etc.
Passports and visas
When travelling overseas, it is imperative that your passport is valid before you travel, and you have all the relevant visas. Most countries will require that you have at least 3 or 6 months validity either from the date you arrive, or the date you leave, and 1 day over either way can result in you being detained or refused boarding at either end of your trip. It is best to double check this with either your travel agent or the website we recommend below.
As for visas, again it is very important to check if the country or countries you are travelling to, or through require your nationality to have a visa. New Zealanders hold a very strong passport and are allowed into a lot of countries without one, but if one is needed it is important to know which ones and how long they take to gain. Some must be sent away with your passport to be issued, and this can become quite difficult if you are travelling before your departure date, or you have more than one visa to get, as some can take as long as a month to obtain. Again we have a link to a great site below that will give you advice on if you need a visa, or please check with your travel agent if unsure.
If you need some more information here are some websites which can help: