The Dubai Health Authority (DHA) is encouraging families who are making travel plans during summer to ensure they take necessary pre-travel vaccinations, at least two weeks prior to their journey, to ensure the effectiveness of the vaccines.
S Sahiwala, a Dubai resident visited the Al Barsha Health Centre with her daughter three weeks prior to the onset of their summer vacation. “We are travelling to Tanzania this year and wanted to get the yellow fever vaccine. In addition to this vaccine, we were informed of other precautions to take to prevent illnesses during our travel. Such comprehensive medical travel advice is very helpful for families to ensure they can take the necessary precautions while on holiday,” she said.
The pre-travel advice takes into account the destination, length of stay, medical and vaccine history, current medical state, and mandatory and recommended vaccines for the destination.
The DHA has two full-fledged traveller’s clinics inside the Nad Al Hammar and Al Barsha primary health care centres, which are a hub for pre-travel medical services such as vaccinations, risk assessment and travel advice. “While there has been an increase in awareness about pre-travel vaccines, we still see families who come to us a week or a few days prior to travel. We inform them that we cannot be sure of the effectiveness of the vaccine unless it is administered a month to minimum two weeks prior to the date of travel and we recommend that they postpone their travel dates. Therefore, to avoid all such hassles our advice to travelers is to understand the importance of pre-travel vaccines and medical advice and incorporate this when they plan to travel,” said Dr Fathiya Sarkal, deputy director of DHA traveller’s clinics.
Dr Sarkal said that year-on-year there has been an increase in the number of travellers for both business and leisure and that the clinics provide vaccines to residents and visitors. “We provide a full range of services for travelers and are constantly up-to-date with the latest in terms of country specific disease prevalence and outbreaks. Based on the updates from the World Health Organisation and the Centre for Disease Control, we notify passengers about health problems they may face while traveling to their destination and provide them with the counselling services which include administering required vaccinations, providing preventive medicines as well as issuing international certification that states the necessary vaccine has been provided.”
Dr Hend Ahmed Alawadhi, specialist public health medicine, Nad Al Hamar Health Centre, explained that residents need to take precautionary measures prior to travel. “There are mandatory vaccines such as yellow fever vaccine for African and South American countries and meningococcal vaccine for pilgrims. The clinic follows international protocol during outbreaks so certain vaccines become mandatory during these periods.”
Alawadhi said that health risk assessment takes into account vaccines that travellers need according to their current state of health. As per the global health regulation rules, only government centres are authorised to issue the international vaccine certification.
In Dubai, the Al Baraha Hospital, which is one of the hospitals under the UAE Ministry of Health and the traveller’s clinics under the DHA primary health care sector are the authorised entities, to provide these certificates.