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Travel health: routine and required vaccines

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In 2010, 55.6 million UK residents travelled overseas.1 In the UK, nurses often provide pre-travel health advice and vaccinations, and the need for vaccines may be the prompt for many travellers to seek travel health advice. Vaccination is an important public health intervention.

It is important that nurses involved in the provision of travel health advice have a sound working knowledge of vaccines, in order to provide travellers with accurate advice and individualised recommendations. Travel vaccines must only be administered following a comprehensive risk assessment, during which travellers should be provided with advice on other preventable hazards and avoidance measures, such as accidents, sexual health, food, water, personal hygiene precautions and insect bite avoidance.

Nurses involved in the provision of pre-travel health advice should be competent in conducting travel health consultations, risk assessment and risk management. A risk assessment should take place for every traveller, in order for risk management recommendations to be tailored to each individual. Factors to consider include the itinerary, length of stay, length of time remaining until departure, planned activities, rates of disease at the destination, and current disease outbreaks. Several resources provide guidance on conducting risk assessments for travellers.2,3

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