If your teenager is planning somewhere exotic for their gap year, don’t forget to sort out the travel vaccines sooner rather than later. It is always worth consulting a travel clinic to ensure they have the right protection before travelling particularly for those heading to developed countries.
According to the World Health Organisation people are at risk of rabies in 85 countries worldwide, encompassing most parts of the African and Asian continents, as well as many parts of South America. Rabies is transmitted to humans from animal bites, most commonly dogs in these countries. The vaccination course takes a month to complete before travel and comprises three injections. It is generally a very well tolerated vaccine with mild, if any, side effects.
Typhoid is contracted from dirty water and contaminated food: the majority of cases in returning travellers in the UK who have travelled to India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. The risks to travellers vary but anyone who visits an area with sub-standard living conditions or poor sanitation is at most risk particularly travellers to the Indian sub-continent. The risk of typhoid is very much reduced if you are able to access clean water and hygienically prepared food. The vaccination for typhoid can be given two weeks before travel and can also be given as a combination vaccine with hepatitis A.
Yellow fever occurs in the tropical parts of Africa and South America with more than 1,500 cases a year in these areas. It is an illness carried by infected mosquitoes in these areas so as well as having the vaccination, travellers need to try to prevent mosquito bites as well. Yellow fever vaccination is given in specially approved travel centres and a certificate is issued which is essential to be presented at immigration in many countries, if you have arrived from a yellow fever area. The vaccine is given more than 10 days before travel and is a one-off vaccination which lasts 10 years.
Finally, have a look at the teenager’s vaccine records for tetanus protection. If they have not had a booster in the past 10 years it is worth getting one in case they cannot access medical care quickly when travelling. The tetanus vaccine given for protection in the UK confers immunity for travel and most teenagers should have had a booster.