Frequently Asked Questions
Questions about Travel Medecine and Vaccinations:
Q: I am just going to visit friends and relatives abroad. Do I still need pre travel advice?
A: Even though you may have lived overseas in the past, you may no longer be immune to many diseases such as malaria and traveller’s diarrhea. It is always a good idea to receive expert pre-travel advice.
Q: What should I bring with me for the pre-travel visit?
A: Please bring any immunization records that you may have, a list of any medications you are taking and your Care Card.
Q: Does MSP cover the cost of pre-travel advice and vaccines?
A: Travel medicine is not an insured service of MSP, but some routine shots such as tetanus boosters may be covered by MSP. In addition, some extended health plans may cover travel vaccines and consultations so please check your extended health plan prior to your visit. Detailed receipts are provided for you to submit if this is the case.
Q: I just found out that I have to travel on short notice. Is there time to have a pre-travel visit?
A: We try to fit last-minute travellers in where possible. It is never too late to get pre-travel advice and some immunizations provide rapid protection.
Q: How far ahead should I book my pre travel visit?
A: If time permits, book an appointment 4-6 weeks ahead of your trip. If you are making a lengthy or complicated trip, or need vaccinations like hepatitis B, two months lead time is preferable. If you have a chronic disease you may want to book your appointment well in advance of your trip.
Q: I am travelling with small children. Do they need any special advice?
A: Our doctors and nurses will check that your child’s routine vaccinations are up to date and will give you additional information specific to your destination. Children weighing over 5 kg should receive anti-malarial medication if they are at risk.
Q: I have a cold but no fever. Can I still receive immunizations?
A: In most cases, yes, but a final determination will be made after consulting with a clinic physician or nurse.
Q: I am pregnant or trying to become pregnant. Can I still receive immunizations?
A: Pregnancy carries particular risk during travel. A thorough pre-travel consultation is recommended. Certain vaccines and medications are safe during pregnancy.
Q: I would like to carry my own needle kit to protect against blood-borne diseases. Where can I get a kit?
A: TMVC carries needle kits in varying sizes that include a physician’s authorization note. Please ask our physicians/nurses for further information.
Q: My child has come down with chickenpox. I do not know if I am immune. What shall I do?
A: For anyone over 13 years of age it is worthwhile to test their blood to see if they are immune. Healthy contacts may be offered chickenpox vaccine within 3-5 days of exposure to chickenpox to reduce their risk of serious disease.
Q: Do I need a flu shot for travel?
A: Flu season is all year round in the tropics, and from May to October in the southern hemisphere. For many reasons it may be a good idea to think about receiving a flu shot prior to travel. This may be discussed with the physician or nurse.
Q: I would like to find out about meningitis immunizations. Do you carry these?
A: TMVC carries the meningitis vaccine used for local outbreaks and also the vaccine recommended for special destinations such as the meningitis belt of sub-Saharan Africa, and the Hajj and Umra pilgrimages in Saudi Arabia .
Q: I lost my TMVC vaccination booklet. What should I do?
A: TMVC keeps a permanent record of your vaccinations and will replace it for a small fee. For some countries it may be necessary to show your vaccine booklet to gain entry. This is generally the case for yellow fever endemic countries. If you are travelling and have lost this information, please contact us and we will provide a replacement. Always keep your vaccine booklet in a safe place, along with your passport.
Q: I lost my travel prescriptions. What should I do?
A: Most travel physicians advise you to obtain your prescriptions prior to travel to avoid the uncertainty of obtaining medications overseas. If you have misplaced your prescription please call our office.
Q: I am going on a new trip. Do I need to come in again?
A: Yes. You will need to update the travel physician about your destination and your current health status. A consultation fee of $35 is charged for new trips.
Q: What should I do if I am bitten by a dog or other animal overseas?
A: Always think rabies, as this is preventable if attended to quickly, and fatal if left untreated. The cut should be washed well, and every effort should be made to obtain reliable post exposure rabies immune globulin and vaccinations. If you are having difficulty obtaining these products, try your embassy, call your nearest IAMAT clinic (see http://www.iamat.org/), the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) or call any TMVC office and speak to one of our physicians or nurses.
Q: I have had diarrhea since I got back from my trip. What should I do?
A: Check with your primary care physician to see whether you may need further follow up or call TMVC if you need assistance in locating post-travel medical advice.
Q: I just returned from a holiday and I feel feverish and unwell. What should I do?
A: If you have been travelling in a tropical country where malaria is present, you should rule this out first. Malaria is a medical emergency and requires blood testing to make a diagnosis. This should be done immediately, with results usually available within several hours. Please proceed to the nearest medical centre and explain that you have recently been in a malarious region. (see the Public Health Agency of Canada’s malaria link).
Find out more information from our Vancouver Travel Clinic or any of our other 18 Travel Clinic locations.