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Remember your health before travel

Remember your health before travel

Those heading overseas should allow at least a few weeks before they travel, to ensure they are properly prepared in terms of health and vaccination, a James Cook University academic has warned.

Australian residents made a record eight million short-term trips overseas in 2011-12, often lured overseas by strong Aussie dollar and cut price airfares, according to data issued by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Australian travellers are being urged today to seek travel health advice in preparation for the holiday season
Professor Peter Leggat, Head of JCU’s Discipline of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, said travellers should preferably allow a few weeks if they want to ensure they are adequately protected against the full range of potential infectious diseases related to their travel.

“Allowing enough time to ensure adequate protection is paramount for people travelling to at-risk destinations,” Professor Leggat said.

“Last minute vaccination will not protect travellers against the full spectrum of infectious diseases, such as Typhoid, hepatitis B and many others.”

Professor Leggat said research also showed that towards half of the people surveyed who did not get or even consider a vaccination, did not think that vaccination was necessary, and nearly one in three did not get vaccinated despite travelling to a destination where vaccinations are recommended.

“Confusion regarding vaccination means that travellers are putting themselves at risk,” Professor Leggat said.

“While many people think they know about disease risks, the risk levels change and seeking professional advice from a doctor is the best way to determine if there is a significant risk.

“With only a few weeks until January, now is the time that people planning overseas holidays should be seeking travel health advice.”

Professor Leggat said the Travel Health Advisory Group had a useful website – www.welltogo.org.au

The Travel Health Advisory Group (THAG) is a joint initiative between travel industry and travel medicine professionals that aims to promote healthy travel amongst travellers. The Anton Breinl Centre, James Cook University, is a Member of THAG.

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