UAE issues health advisory for summer travellers
Dubai - Residents are urged to take the necessary precautions.
Health officials are encouraging families who are planning to travel during the summer holidays to ensure that they take necessary pre-travel vaccinations at least one month prior to their journey to ensure the effectiveness of the vaccines.
Officials from traveler's clinics in the Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) as well as Dubai Health Authority (DHA) say that the services are free for Emiratis and available at an affordable price for expats.
"Our clinics and centres are giving these vaccines at half the price that are available in the private and other government sectors," said Dr Fatma Al Attar, family medicine consultant and head of Travelers Clinic team at the ministry.
She said that the prices of vaccines were lowered on a special order after a study was presented to the minister of health and prevention.
Al Attar said that vaccines are free for children under five.
"We wanted to make it affordable and ask people to take care of their health," she said.
"It is important to educate travellers on the health risks whilst visiting other countries. They should visit screening centres before leaving the UAE to avail of vaccines as a precautionary measure," she added.
She said that many travellers do not realise the importance of the medical aspect of travelling, which is essential and important when choosing their destinations. "It is important to take vaccines for pneumococcal and malaria, among others."
The DHA has two Travellers Clinics inside the Nad Al Hammar and Al Barsha primary healthcare centres. They are hubs for pre-travel medical services like vaccinations, risk assessment and travel advice.
"Since vaccination requirements vary by country and often require second doses, it's important to visit a traveler's clinic at least one month prior to travel," said Dr Fathiya Sarkal, deputy director of DHA traveler's clinics.
"Often, travelers need more than one vaccine, so planning is recommended. We still see families who come to us a week or a few days prior to travel," she said.
"We inform them that we cannot be sure of the effectiveness of the vaccine unless it is administered at least 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 by incorporating this when they plan to travel," said Sarkal.
Travel vaccines depend on the place of travel. For example, yellow fever presents the greatest health risk for visitors to South America and Central Africa.
"When patients visit us, we discuss the places they intend to travel, length of stay, their health, current prescriptions and vaccine history. After a detailed consultation, we recommend vaccines as well as educate them about other travel precautions based on their destination," she said.
"There are mandatory vaccines like the yellow fever vaccine for African and South American countries and meningococcal vaccine for pilgrims."
Travelers should use common sense in knowing which foods to eat and avoid, especially in places where there is a prevalence of food and water-borne diseases. She also advised purchasing travel insurance to help cover the costs of health emergencies.
She said that year-on-year, there has been an increase in the number of travelers for both business and leisure, and that clinics provide vaccines to residents and visitors.
For the location of ministry clinics, travelers can call 80011111. To contact DHA branches, call 04-5023701 in Nad Al Hammar and 04-5023301 in Al Barsha.