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Travel Medicine by Dr Frank Jones

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Posted on 30th August, 2017 at 9:40 AM


Why go to a travel clinic instead of seeing a ‘normal’ GP?

At Murray Medical Centre, we have a specialized Travel Clinic available for all our patients, so you do not need to go anywhere else for your vaccinations before you venture overseas!

Access to a Travel Clinic within a GP Practice is not just convenient but has other benefits too. Dr Frank R Jones, FRACGP, practice principal and Immediate Past President RACGP explains:

  • What are the benefits of a patient attending a travel clinic as opposed to seeing their 'regular' GP?
  • We provide additional expertise in assessment of travel risk, and an appraisal of other medical issues which may impact on travel, along with up to date written advice about how to keep well when overseas: we have on site ' one stop' access to relevant vaccinations. With consent, the patients’ regular GP is also kept in the loop.

  • What are the benefits of going to a travel clinic within your family practice?
  • All your medical records are centralized, up to date and easy to access, making travel risk assessment optimum. In addition, our Travel doctors have additional expertise, and access to the latest travel advice, country by country, so that we can help keep you well and healthy whilst you are overseas

  • Why would a person need to see a doctor 6-8 weeks before they travel?
  • One main reason; to ensure you are fully protected against specific diseases before you get on the plane! By the way, take your vaccination record with you on holiday! Our advice would be to attend the GP travel clinic at least 4-6 weeks before departure to assess individual risks and give the relevant vaccines, as vaccination can take up to 4 weeks to give maximum efficiency of protection.

  • Why do people need vaccinations for their holiday?
  • Geographical location and the social infrastructure within countries affect an individuals' risk of exposure to illnesses whilst traveling overseas. Some specific geographical locations have a higher incidence of vaccine preventable diseases and therefore an individual appraisal is essential.

  • How can swimming in lakes/bush camping impact the likelihood of needing different vaccinations?
  • This is highly geographical location dependent, so this needs individual appraisal and advice.

  • What vaccinations are important to have to ensure a person can return to Australia?
  • There are no mandated ones: yellow fever is what everyone worries about. The Department of health website states " If you are arriving in Australia from a yellow fever risk country but do not hold a vaccination certificate you will still be permitted to enter Australia without one. On arrival in Australia, Department of Agriculture, Biosecurity officers will reinforce the seriousness of the disease to you and provide you with a Yellow Fever Action Card. The card provides instructions on what you should do if you develop any symptoms of yellow fever in the six-day period following your departure from a yellow fever risk country."

  • Should you still go and see your GP even if it's less than 6 weeks before you travel?
  • Yes, it is never too late!

  • What are the routine vaccinations e.g. routine vaccinations such as measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, diphtheria, polio, influenza, tetanus?
  • Generally if born in Australia most people will either have acquired immunity or have been vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, polio, pertussis, diphtheria and tetanus. Younger people will also have been vaccinated against hepatitis B. We have an ever improving central government database to check vaccination status (ACIR). If the status is unclear it is possible to check an individuals’ immunity via a blood test. In general terms we would recommend a booster of diphtheria tetanus and whooping cough every 5-10 years if going overseas .A vaccination against the influenza virus is recommended annually for certain at risk groups. Patients of Aboriginal and Torres Islanders descent have a slightly different regime.

  • Are all diseases/illnesses prevented through vaccinations?
  • No, so make sure you speak to your doctor about all the risks and what is available For example, for some water born infections and mosquito born infections, vaccines are available, but for many others there are none, and so education around prevention is critical

  • Why have you specialised in travel medicine in particular?
  • A General Practitioner has a breadth of knowledge around individual health needs and appraisals, and this the basis of what I do! However most GPS also develop skills and an expertise in specific areas of medicine, and Travel medicine is one of mine! It is great mixture of applying the science and evidence to geographical location to individual risk appraisal!

  • Have you travelled extensively to other countries (where vaccinations are required)?
  • Yes, Asia and Africa mainly

  • What motivates you in offering travel medicine?
  • Keeping people healthy when overseas!

  • How much do vaccinations cost at Murray Medical Centre?
  • Costs vary depending on the different vaccinations, the details can be discussed during your appointment. However as we are member of the GP travel group Australia, we can offer a more competitive price.

  • What vaccinations do you offer at Murray Medical Centre?
  • We offer the routine vaccinations as per Australian guidelines, such as Tetanus, as well as the recommended ones which depending on destination, may include, Cholera, Hepatitis A, Japanese encephalitis, Meningococcal meningitis, Rabies, Typhoid, and the required e.g. Yellow fever), many of which I’ve now had having travelled extensively!