Take care of your vaccinations before the winter holiday

When your holiday destination is located in a more exotic country, you should take vaccinations that protect you against various diseases early enough, at least one month before your trip.

The vaccination requirements and, for example, the need for anti-malarial treatments depend on whether you will spend time in rural areas or in cities and on where you will sleep.  It is particularly important to ensure proper anti-malarial treatment for children, since for small children, malaria can be a very serious disease and one that is also sometimes difficult to diagnose.

“It is a good idea to have a thorough itinerary, since it will help the physician to determine the suitable anti-malarials,” says Ahti Vainio, occupational health physician at Mehiläinen. 

Ensure that your basic vaccinations are up to date

The tetanus-diphtheria vaccination must be renewed every ten years. In addition, the basic vaccinations for travellers include Hepatitis A and B. Hepatitis A can be contracted through food and Hepatitis B through sexual intercourse or blood. To be protected against both, you need three doses of a combination vaccine. The first two should be received at one month intervals before the trip. If there is less time, a proper immunity is achieved by giving the traveller one dose of the stronger Hepatitis A vaccine only. A measles-mumps-rubella vaccination may be needed by those born between 1960 and 1974.

Country-specific vaccines

In addition to the basic vaccinations, country-specific vaccines are needed. The vaccination requirements in North America are the same as those in Europe. In many Asian countries, vaccination against Japanese encephalitis is recommended before trips lasting more than a month. According to Vainio, a person who has not been previously vaccinated will need two doses at a minimum interval of 28 says before the trip.
The meningitis vaccine against meningitis occurring on the equator in Africa is recommended on longer trips lasting approximately a month.

Polio occurs in some countries in Africa and Asia. A yellow fever vaccination is also needed in many countries in Africa and South America, and the validity of the traveller’s vaccination may be checked at border crossing points.

Typhoid fever is prevented by means of a vaccination in capsule form. This vaccination is recommended for extended travel in countries where the food hygiene is poor. Travellers' diarrhoea may easily ruin your entire holiday in both Africa and Asia. The risk of getting diarrhoea can at least be reduced by taking a cholera vaccine in the form of an effervescent drink.

Should I vaccinate my children?

The travel guidelines concerning children depend on the destination, duration of the trip and the age of the child. The vaccination programme maintained by child health clinics and school health services provides basic immunity, but when planning a trip, you should consult a physician to see if any complementary vaccinations are needed. The vaccination programme can be customised, for example, by giving missing vaccinations earlier.

“With the exception of the dosage, the vaccines given to children are the same as those given to adults. The vaccines are chosen based on age, and selecting the right vaccines ensures immunisation that is as good as possible. Vaccines also come with minimum age limits.”

Many diseases are spread by mosquitoes. That is why both children and adults should be protected against insects by means of insect repellents, clothing and mosquito nets.

Published 29.11.2019