The pretravel consultation provides an ideal opportunity to check whether patients are up to date with their routine immunisations.
Until the early 1990s most GPs would routinely administer to the intending traveller the now superseded cholera and typhoid vaccines and send them on their way. Unfortunately, these older vaccines gave variable protection, often made the recipients feel quite unwell and were discontinued some years after the introduction of a range of newer vaccines.
The first of these newer vaccines was the active hepatitis A vaccine Havrix, which in 1993 became the forerunner of a new generation of vaccines offering superior efficacy and a significantly lower side effect profile. For today’s traveller, GPs can now select from over 25 vaccines, with many different brands, formulations and combinations available. Each has its own specific delivery mode, indications, risk of adverse reactions, precautions and contraindications, and all may be promoted heavily. The resultant plethora of information is potentially confusing to both medical practitioners and their travelling patients.