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Before You Travel
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about pre travel health care.
What health precautions are recommended for this trip?
Your risks on an overseas journey depend on several things:
- WHERE you go is certainly important – however risks are not uniform all over a country – the risks for someone visiting the cities will be quite different to the risks encountered visiting rural areas
- WHAT you do while you are there is even more important e.g. the risk of someone lying on a deckchair is quite different to someone going out and eating on street stalls, bathing in local rivers, trekking, doing humanitarian work etc etc
- YOUR OWN HEALTH HISTORY is also important – things like age, medications, allergies, pre-existing medical conditions etc make a difference. Other things may also be relevant; Some people are more attractive to mosquitoes than others
- How careful you are at looking after yourself – some travellers want to take every precaution, other travellers dont want to be too fussy
Some of the travel medicine databases are provided free to general practitioners by the manufacturers of the vaccines, so their recommendations may be ‘overly enthusiastic’.
There is also an important difference between compulsory vaccines (ones you must have to get in and out of a country e.g. Yellow Fever) and recommended vaccines (Travel immunisations that are recommended for your own protection e.g. Hepatitis A).
International health regulations are set up to protect the locals NOT you the visitor. Even if nothing is compulsory, there may be things strongly recommended for your own health and safety.
You need individualised medical advice
We know how important it is to have a safe and healthy journey. (We also look after sick travellers who come back after they have failed to take precautions.)
The goal of my staff and I is to provide the best possible Travel Medicine advice and service to our travellers. The safest way to determine exactly what you need for your trip is to have a consultation with one of our specially trained doctors.
Travel Medicine is more than just vaccinations – some diseases (e.g. dengue fever and hookworm) – you just have to learn about how to avoid them. That is why we have a strong emphasis on health education. Every traveller who consults Dr Deb The Travel Doctor receives a copy of my book Travelling Well as part of their consultation.
So if you want to make sure you stay healthy on this trip … it really is best to make an appointment to see myself or one of the other doctors to make sure you are getting the best possible health preparation. When it comes to overseas travel, prevention is far better than cure.
What information is available over the phone?
Our reception staff can give you information about how the clinic works and make appointments but cannot tell you exactly what vaccines you need. Individualised, detailed medical information cannot be provided over the phone. Our phones are answered by reception staff not doctors. The doctors are busy and cannot be interrupted during consultations.
Ideally vaccines should be given 6-8 weeks before departure
While it is never too late to plan for a healthy trip, ideally you need to seek medical advice 6-8 weeks before departure. There are very good reasons for this:
- You can receive your treatment early to minimise the inconvenience of any side effects occurring while you are away.
- Some immunisations require multiple doses that must be spaced out over time e.g. Hep B, JE or Rabies
- Immunisations may take some time to give you the necessary protection, or for the immunisation certificate to be valid.
Travel Health Costs at our clinic?
Your travel health costs depend on how much time you spend with the doctors and nurses, what vaccines and pills you need, and how early before departure you have your vaccines.
The exact cost can only be determined once you have spoken with the doctor and sorted out what vaccines etc are recommended. Detailed price lists will be provided and costs will be clearly explained to you before you have any immunisations etc. The prices below are subject to change without notice.
However to give you a guide, on your FIRST visit to our centre you will usually pay:
- Doctors consultation fee e.g. simple trip $80, standard trip $110
- Vaccines / medications – travel vaccines average $45-85 per vaccine. The average first time traveller needs 2-3 vaccines. The malaria pills cost approximately $1-5 per day depending on which one you choose with the doctor. There are some vaccines where you can chose a cheaper option e.g. it is cheaper to have the typhoid and hep A separately than together in the one syringe. Rabies vaccine can be about $300 cheaper if you have the vaccine intradermally 8 weeks before departure, rather than 3-4 weeks before departure.
Subsequent visits for follow up doses of vaccines – usually you see the nurse only and this fee is $25 plus cost of medications or vaccines.
Cost of each vaccine: we do not post prices of our vaccines on the web, as it is also subject to change, and depends on the costs from our suppliers etc. Our receptionists do not have time to read out prices of each individual vaccine to callers. Our vaccine costs reflect the real cost of delivering a specialised service to our travellers. As at 1/8/2015 the Yellow Fever vaccine is $69 and Hep A vaccine is $75 per dose. Our patients are given a price list when they come for a consultation.
Medical kit supplies can cost from $30 to $160 depending on what you take.
For average trips to the remoter parts of the developing world, as a rough guide only, you may need to budget about $300-$600 per person for your travel health costs.
It will be less if you have already had basic immunisations, don’t want a kit, don’t need malaria pills etc etc.
Consultation – Persons travelling in connection with their work are not entitiled to a medicare rebate. It is assumed they will claim their consultation through their tax. Consultation IS rebatable from medicare for recreational travel. The rebate from medicare varies depending on which doctor you see, and whether they are classified as VR or vocationally registered
You will note that Non-VR doctors attract a lower rebate from medicare. Some of the doctors working at Dr Deb The Travel Doctora are VR and some are not VR.
VR is a medicare designation and applies to doctors who have undertaken the Royal College of General Practitioners Exam, or have worked in general practice for a length of time before the designation was developed by the authorities. All doctors undertake ongoing training in General Practice ( eg earn 130 points every 3 years in approved medical education.)
The VR designation has nothing to do with the travel medicine qualifications of the doctors. All our doctors have extra qualifications in Travel Medicine, but medicare does not recognize these extra qualifications for the purposes of their rebate system.
Vaccines and medications – Some of this is rebatable if you are in a private health fund with ‘extras’ cover. Each fund is different, but you may pay the first $30-40 and then get back the rest of your vaccine cost, up to the limit of your fund. Hicaps is currently not available on prescriptions through travel clinics, but we will give you all the necessary receipts so you can claim in your usual way.
We require cash settlements at the end of your visit, as this helps to keep your health costs down. This clinic also accepts EFTPOS, MasterCard, Visa, Diners, and AMEX.
What will happen during my visit?
First you will fill out some information that our doctors need – we will ask about your medical history, where you are going, what you will be doing etc
Next you will consult with of our expert Travel Doctors. They will discuss the recommendations for your trip – including vaccines, malaria pills, medical kits and other health hazards e.g. altitude sickness.
You will receive a copy of the useful book, Travelling Well – the must have guide to a safe and healthy journey.
All the vaccines are available in the clinic so you do not have to go off to a chemist to get scripts filled.
Next our doctors or our specially trained Nurses will administer the vaccines, and give you information about how to avoid common travellers problems, how to use the travellers medical kit and provide all the right paperwork so you can to carry medications overseas without hassles.
We have a range of other products in the clinic to help you have a safe journey e.g. military strength mosquito repellent, specially treated mosquito nets, special security locks for your bags etc.
Special information for families – click here…
Duration of Doctors visit
Please allow 45-60 minutes for your clinic visit.
What should I bring to the appointment?
You will need to bring the following with you:
- Past vaccination records. If you have an international vaccination record book, please bring it with you. You may need to contact your doctor to ask for a written vaccination record. You will be issued with an international standard vaccination record book during your consultation with The Travel Doctor.
- Details of your trip itinerary, and tours will be taking (e.g. bring the brochure which outlines your trip)
- Names of any medications you take regularly or intermittently.
It is also a good idea to be well fed when you come to the clinic as this may decrease your risk of feeling faint after immunisations. HOWEVER, if you are coming for a medical screening/ company medical, you may need to fast 8 hours before you arrive so that we can take blood tests for things like cholesterol. Please ask if you are unsure.
I hate needles - is there another way?
If you contract the actual diseases, you are likely to receive more needles as part of blood tests and treatment.
However, when it comes time to receive your vaccinations, you’ll be pleasantly surprised! We recognise that for some people, having an injection can be a fearful event. We respect your concerns and use our many years of experience at giving immunizations to ensure your experience is as painless as possible. We have a great deal of experience with needle phobic patients and can provide anaesthetic patches to numb the skin beforehand.
Video on how to apply emla to decrease the pain of intramuscular vaccination.
Side Effects of vaccines
Generally the side effects of modern vaccines are minor – however it is better to have vaccines well in advance of departure just in case there are any side effects. Specific information will be provided by the clinic on each of the vaccines and the possible side effects you may experience.
On the day of vaccination, most people can do all their usual activities – work, drive a car, play sport or go to the gym, but it is best to ‘take it a bit easy’. Modern vaccines do not leave a scar.
Background health information on each country
If you want to read some basic/trustworthy information about your destination and what sort of health problems you might encounter, the most reliable website is the US Centre For Disease Control.
Of course this CDC site cannot tell you exactly what YOU might need for YOUR trip – you need to consult one of our Travel Doctors to get exact recommendations for you and your trip.