Health & Wellness

Only Half of Canadians Get a Shot Before Overseas Travel

Most of us know that travelling overseas can put us at risk but never bother to protect ourselves


Photo: iStock/Choreograph.

Nobody wants to see his or her vacation ruined by travellers’ diarrhea—or something worse. Despite that, a recent poll shows only half of Canadians decided to get vaccinated before travelling overseas.

The vast majority of Canadians—78 per cent— according to a poll conducted on behalf of London Drugs (which offers vaccinations in its pharmacies)—agree that travelling outside of Canada can put you at risk of catching a vaccine-preventable-disease such as hepatitis A and B, yellow fever, typhoid, or traveller’s diarrhea.

While the federal government recommends that all Canadians consult a travel clinic before a trip overseas, the message isn’t getting to everyone: the same poll found that only three in 10 Canadians are aware that they should take this precaution.

As a handful of measles cases have surfaced in Canada and the United States this last year, more pharmacies are now recommending that vaccine, as well. Just this month, New Brunswick had to secure 20,000 doses of the measles vaccine after 12 people in the Saint John region contracted the disease.

Even if your destination is unlikely to put you at risk, diseases such as these can still be spread at airports—with the Vancouver airport announcing a measles exposure warning recently, as did Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia and Los Angeles International Airport.

The sooner you can get to a pharmacy the better. Most travel vaccinations give you immunity only two weeks after being administered. In addition, many of these vaccines won’t be available through your family doctor, who will be more likely to refer to another clinic with a larger inventory.