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Healthy planning, healthy holiday
The West Australian Be a healthy traveller

The national Fit2Travel survey, conducted by Pure Profile and developed by GlaxoSmithKline, has revealed that while Australians are travelling overseas more often, vaccinations are a low priority regardless of the destination.

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The survey, which asked 1000 Australians about their destinations and vaccination decisions, showed 73 per cent would not get vaccinations although only 13 per cent of their doctors said they were not necessary.

Deputy Head of the school of Public Health, Tropical Medicine and Rehabilitation Sciences at James Cook University Professor Peter Leggat said Australian travellers were at risk by disregarding vaccination advice.

"I am astonished by these results. All Australian travellers who have not sought health advice before travelling may be at risk because of the different health conditions abroad. Everyone travelling overseas needs to be informed about travel health and disease prevention, including: routine vaccine-preventable diseases relevant to one's age, common travel-related diseases and very specific conditions depending on the destination," he said.

Of the people who did not get vaccinated, 52 per cent thought vaccinations were not required for where they were visiting, although many were heading to Asian countries where vaccinations were strongly advised.

Destinations that proved most popular among the survey group, were Asia, New Zealand and Europe receiving 33, 15 and 13 per cent of the survey group.

The survey results show Australians needed to be made more aware of the risk of contracting diseases such as hepatitis A and hepatitis B while travelling in Asian countries but travellers from South Australia have shown to be the most likely to be vaccinated against travel related disease.

Professor Leggat advised all travellers to do the research before departure. "People might stay in a glitzy hotel and may assume they are safe but travel related diseases are not discriminatory. Travellers can get Hepatitis A in a five-star or one-star hotel," he said.

The website www.myvaccination.com.au , developed by GlaxoSmithKline(GSK), offers Australians with information about travel related diseases

Associate medical director for GSK Vaccines Dr Cheryl Keech said the aim of the site was to make it easier for travellers to find information relating to vaccinations and diseases.

"It was the need for information that prompted the development of myvaccination.com," Dr Keech said.

"The site encourages people to take a proactive approach to their health and help prevent infection and maintain immunity throughout their life. There is an interactive world map that provides travel health information for each selected country and a specific iPhone App. Individuals have various vaccination needs based on personal health history, age at time of prior vaccination and previous vaccination coverage."

For more information about vaccination visit www.myvaccination.com.au.