The Reliance GP Blog

Healthy Holidays – What you need to know about Travel Vaccines and Prescription Medication before you jet off
Missy Tysoe July 13, 2017

Check-up before you check-out

As many of us have learned the hard way, it is common for travellers to become sick while overseas. It can be difficult to seek proper medical advice in the middle of jungle, and sometimes, travel illnesses can be life-threatening. You can reduce your risk of becoming ill by getting the right medical advice and vaccinations. Ideally, you should give yourself at least 8 weeks before your departure date for all your vaccinations, and some vaccines may take longer to take effect, but it’s never to late to get a check-up.

If you have any pre-existing or chronic health problems, you should have a check-up with your GP before you travel. Call 43041 333 to see a Doctor. Your GP will help ensure your conditions are stable and develop a plan for managing your conditions while travelling. You should also obtain a letter from your doctor with the details of any prescription medication you will be carrying with you, and assure you have an adequate supply of your medication for the duration of your trip.

pap smears and sexual health

Prescription Medication

If you require prescription medicine, it is important you have an adequate supply with you for the duration of your trip. It’s illegal to take Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines out of Australia unless the medicine is for your personal use. Check with the embassies of the countries you’re visiting to make sure your medicine is legal there, and try and do this a month in advance as some embassies have a long turn-around time. Make sure you carry a letter from your doctor detailing what the medicine is, how much you’ll be taking and stating the medicine is for your personal use or the personal use of someone with you (for example, a child). Leave the medicine in its original packaging so it can be easily identified, this will save you time at customs too.

Travel Vaccinations

Vaccinations are a safe and important part of looking after your health. Vaccines can be general, or specific to a destination or activity. Some countries require proof of vaccination against specific diseases as a condition of entry. You’ll need to check the travel advice for your destination, or the embassy or consulate of the countries you intend to visit or transit. If you are not vaccinated, you may be refused entry or required to have the vaccination at the border.

  • Vaccines against polio, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella are provided as part of Australia’s, childhood vaccination program but a booster may be required depending on your age. The seasonal influenza vaccine is funded by the government for those at high risk of developing complications from influenza.
  • Travellers to some countries should be up to date with hepatitis and typhoid vaccines, including any country where bottled water is recommended.
  • Some vaccines require more than one dose, so it is important to start the course well in advance of travel. These include hepatitis B and rabies. Hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for frequent, high risk or long-term travellers. If travelling where rabies exists and animal exposure is possible, consider pre-exposure rabies vaccine.
  • Other vaccines may be destination specific. Proof of yellow fever vaccine is required for entry to some parts of Africa, South and Central America and the Caribbean. See our country-specific travel advice for details. Japanese encephalitis vaccine is used for high-risk or long-term travel in Asia, and a meningitis vaccine may be recommended for certain destinations in Africa or elsewhere.

To view vaccines by destination, click here

Flight cabin pressure and blood clotting

Some medical conditions or medications may increase the risk of getting a blood clot during a flight.  Conditions that may increase the risk of clotting include; heart conditions, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, deep vein thrombosis, pregnancy, recent surgery, old age, and chronic inflammatory diseases. Medications that may increase your risk of blood clotting include; certain types of oral contraceptives (the pill), cancer treatments, heart medication and anticoagulant such as warfarin. Talk with your doctor about whether you need to take extra precautions.

Travel Insurance for Health

It is recommended to take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart Australia. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you will be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Note that travel insurance companies may not cover you for pre-existing medical conditions so take this into account before travelling as you may be liable for payment of any overseas treatment required for pre-existing medical conditions. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. Ensure you have all your vaccines up to date before you travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller’s medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs, and some countries may not have access to sanitary medical facilities or English speaking health professionals.

Jet Lag

Jet lag is the unwelcome aftermath of a long flight through different time zones, and although it is uncomfortable it is quite common and completely normal. The good news is, it usually disappears  within 1-3 days of arrival. And those seemingly annoying flights with stop-overs can be the perfect excuse to catch a break and move around. Jet lag is caused by the individual’s daily rhythm of activity being disrupted from their “real” time at the destination.The patient may experiences fatigue, disorientation, sleep difficulties, impaired concentration and physical performance, anxiety, loss of appetite and constipation.

During the flight

  • Fluids: Reduce alcohol and coffee to a minimum. Minimise dehydration by drinking two or three glasses of water per sector. Carbonated drinks cause bloating through expansion of stomach gases
  • Food: Eat only when hungry and even miss a meal or two. Eat the lighter, more digestible parts of your meal and avoid fatty foods and rich carbohydrate foods.
  • Dress: Wear loose clothing, long skirts or comfortable trousers, light sweaters. Avoid girdles or restrictive clothing. Wear comfortable shoes and take them off in flight. Circulation pantyhose are advisable for those at risk of developing clots in the calf veins, but it is best to speak to your doctor about preventative measures if you are at risk of clotting.
  • Sleep: Try to sleep on longer sections of the flight. Close the blinds, wear an eye mask and ask for a pillow, the sunlight helps regulate the sleep hormone in your brain and it may interfere with your sleeping rhythm.
  • Activity: Take regular walks around the plane and exercise at airport stops. Keep feet up when resting and exercise by flexing major muscles of legs. Rest without napping during daylight sectors.
  • Special body care: Frequently wet face and eyes. Use moisturizers to reduce feeling of dehydration. People with contact lenses should carry a lens case and saline solution in case of drying out.
  • Ear or sinus pain can occur when flying with a cold. The discomfort can be minimised by using a nasal decongestant spray prior to take off and landing.
  • Upset stomach: A peppermint tea may assist your bowels to relax.

If you suffer from motion sickness, this is due to an imbalance in the middle ear and can be treated with medication. Speak to your doctor about your options – call 43041 333 or make a booking online


Reliance Health Practitioner Staff

Australian Government Website, Smart Traveller Advice

Australia Government Department of Health, Vaccines and Immunisations

World Health Organisation 


Author: Melissa Burt (Tysoe)



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