March 20, 2012
So you’re off to India. You’ve bought the tickets, browsed the guide books and sorted out accommodation. What else is on your list? A trip to the travel clinic! Getting the necessary inoculations and preventative medication is an essential step towards jetting off to this part of the world.
As a couple of the vaccinations need to be done three months in advance of travel, book yourself an appointment EARLY! An entire trip spent trying to dodge mosquitoes or terrified about contracting Diphtheria is not a relaxing one. The advice for each country can change, so make sure the practitioner administering your inoculations gives you the most up-to-date information.
First up, then, is the Diphtheria vaccine, which is given three months before travel. Most British school children are offered this routinely, but after ten years you need a top-up injection, so check that you received the full vaccination programme, and how long ago it was. The same applies to Polio and Tetanus, so get these done too if you need them. You may also be recommended the Tuberculosis vaccine, though your health practitioner will advise you on this one. If you’re going to be travelling to India a lot or staying there for long periods of time, you’ll probably need the vaccine even if short-stay visitors are told it’s not necessary.
Hepatitis A and Typhoid are definite risk factors for travellers to India, so make sure you get jabs for these, no later than two weeks before you go (or ten days in the case of Typhoid). The Hepatitis B jab may be recommended too, as may the vaccines for Cholera, Rabies and Japanese B encephalitis.
Take note that if you are travelling to India from an area that has a risk of yellow fever transmission, you will need to produce a certificate of vaccination against the disease in order to gain entry into the country.
Aside from inoculations, there is also malaria medication to consider. Whether or not you need it will depend on whereabouts in India you are heading to. For example, Delhi currently has a very low risk of malaria, but Goa has a more significant risk. Talk it over with your health practitioner, but be aware that even if you do take anti-malaria tablets, none of them provide a hundred percent protection against the disease, so you will need to invest in some effective anti-mosquito creams and nets. You might be advised to start taking anti-malarials some time before leaving, to ensure you don’t get any unwanted side effects. There are several different types of anti-malarial courses available.
Diarrhoea medication, including rehydration salts, is always a good idea, as is a suitable travel-insurance policy. And don’t forget your sun cream or your hat!