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Vaccine & Health Information for Newsgathering Professionals

Vaccine & health information for newsgathering professionals

It takes 4-6 weeks – sometimes longer – to complete a full course of vaccination against the major vaccine-preventable diseases. For travel to the yellow fever zones of Africa and South America, a yellow fever certificate takes 10 days from receipt of the vaccine to become effective. This can always be compressed in an emergency. However, we always prefer to identify people whose work involves the possibility of rapid deployment, and prepare them “offline” whenever possible, and then to keep their vaccine protection continuously update so that they are always ready to go.

Here are some of the vaccines that journalists commonly need:

  • Tetanus/Diphtheria/Polio: Tetanus/Diphtheria risk arises from injury (and with diphtheria, close contact with local people).  Polio is a food/water-borne virus – and is still a risk in parts of Africa and Asia, though eradication programmes are ongoing. Protection needs updating every 10 years.
  • Typhoid: This is a food/water-borne infection caused by Salmonella typhi infection. The highest risk is found in the Indian subcontinent, but also wherever hygiene is poor.  Protection needs updating every 3 years.
  • Hepatitis A: This is a food/water-borne virus infection, and is the commonest vaccine preventable disease, other than flu. It can cause serious illness, but the vaccine provides powerful protection: a 2-dose course protects for at least 25 years.
  • Hepatitis B is caused by a blood-borne virus, often spread by contact with body fluids or contaminated medical instruments. Risk is often associated with accidents and injuries necessitating emergency treatment where safe care may not be possible. Protection needs updating every 5-10 years, and can be confirmed with blood tests.
  • Yellow fever is a mosquito-borne virus, still causing outbreaks in Africa and South America. A common issue for journalists is that a Certificate may be required for destinations within designated yellow fever zones, and for onward travel from yellow fever zones to other countries where yellow fever may not even be present. The certificate is now valid lifelong – from 10th day after vaccination.
  • Rabies: This is a lethal virus infection transmitted via animal bites, licks and scratches. 3-dose course protects for at least 3 years. Correct treatment following a bite may be extremely difficult to obtain, especially in remote places or where local infrastructure has broken down. We recommend protection for everyone who may need to travel to developing countries at short notice.
  • Meningitis: Infection is usually transmitted by droplet inhalation, from close personal contact with people carrying meningitis bacteria in their respiratory passages. Africa’s sub-Saharan meningitis belt is a major risk area, and risk also arise in parts of Asia and the Middle East (Saudi Arabia). Vaccines protect for 5 years.
  • Cholera/ETEC: An oral vaccine is available for protection from cholera, with some “spillover” protection against travellers’ diarrhoea. The vaccine protects for 2 years.
  • Japanese encephalitis: A mosquito-borne virus infection occurring in rural parts of Asia. The vaccine course normally takes 4 weeks to complete, which can be reduced to one week if needed.

Our Strategy:

We aim to provide frequent travellers with at least a baseline level of protection, tailored to their likely needs; and to maintain continuing protection, with reminders whenever vaccines need updating. For each new assignment, fine-tuning should be all that is required.

For more information about destination-specific vaccine recommendations, take a look at our country vaccine guide. If you are concerned about malaria, you can head over to our malaria page for further advice.

For further information and individual advice, come and see one our specially trained travel nurses or doctors. Call us on 020 7353 5678, or booking online here.

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