It is common for travellers to become ill while overseas. Sometimes travel illnesses can be life-threatening. The risk of becoming ill can be reduced by proper preparation. Travel health planning should ideally start at least six weeks before departure, but it is never too late to seek good advice.
- If you have any pre-existing or chronic health problems, you should have a check-up with your GP before you travel. 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.
- Some medical conditions increase the risk of getting a blood clot during a flight. Talk with your doctor about whether you need to take extra precautions.
- A doctor can provide expert advice about health risks at your destination, including vaccines you might need and any other medication you need to take. A doctor can also advise on other ways of preventing specific diseases while travelling as vaccines only provide protection against some diseases.
- If you plan to travel to locations or undertake activities at high altitude (above 2,500 metres) you should get specific advice for your situation. Altitude sickness can affect anyone, even the physically fit.
- Travel health clinics can also provide specialised travel medical kits that contain prescription medications for treating simple travel illness.
General recommendations about 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 vaccines are cheap, others very expensive - so discussing priorities with a travel health specialist is advised.
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.
- Measles remains a common disease in many parts of the world, including areas of Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. Outbreaks occur often. Australians travelling overseas should ensure they are vaccinated against measles prior to departure. The Australian Immunisation Handbook has details of vaccination recommendations.
- 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 A 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.
My Health Record
My Health Record is an online summary of your key health information which brings together health information from you, your healthcare providers and Medicare. This year, a My Health record is being created for every Australian with a Medicare or Department of Veteran's Affairs card, unless you tell the Australian Digital Health Agency that don't want one.
Once set up, your health information can be viewed securely online, from anywhere, at any time – even if you move or travel overseas. You can access your health information from any computer or device that's connected to the internet. My Health Record enables important health information including allergies, medical conditions, treatments, medicines, and test reports to be securely shared between healthcare providers and their patients.
A secure My Health Record will be created for you by the end of 2018 if you have a Medicare or Department of Veterans' Affairs card. However, if you don't want a My Health Record, you have until 15 October 2018 to opt out online. You will need your Medicare card and driver licence (or other identification) to complete the opt-out process.
More information: myhealthrecord.gov.au (Australian Digital Health Agency)
Where to get travel medicine services and information
All doctors will be able to provide advice about vaccinations and general health issues in preparation for overseas travel. Some general practitioners have a particular interest in travel medicine and will be able to provide more specialised advice. There are also a number of travel medicine clinics which specialise in vaccinations and preparations for travel. Some national providers include:
For more information visit: