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Carl asked...

vaccines for Jamaica

I am going to Jamaica on the 1st August this year and am a bit concerned I have made a mistake regarding injections. I didn't think I need any but just want to double check? do I? Thankyou, Carl

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The answer

All travelers should be up to date with vaccines recommended for life in the UK.

This means that you would need to up to date with Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio.

Diphtheria Tetanus and Polio are available together in a single vaccine, so if you need it you would have one injection in the arm.

You do not say how old you are. Teenagers in UK have a booster of Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio when they are between 13-15years old. The booster provides 10year protection.

If you are under 23-25years old and have had the booster less than10years ago then you may not need these vaccines.

If you are older and have received these vaccines within the last 10years then again you will not need this vaccine.

However, if you have not had Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio vaccine within the last 10years then you will need these vaccines in one injection.

The other vaccine that is usually advised when travelling to Jamaica is Hepatitis A.

Hepatitis A vaccine consists of two doses. If you have never had Hepatitis A vaccine then you will need one injection in your other arm. This will give you protection for up to one year. You will need another dose 6months to a year after the first dose. Once you have the second dose you will have at least 10year protection or longer depending on the brand.

Hepatitis B, Typhoid and Rabies vaccines may be recommended for travelling to Jamaica depending on your length of stay, where you stay and your activities whilst you are in Jamaica.

You will need to consider your own particular risk and situation whilst you are out there.

If you are going to be in Jamaica for less than a month so one or two week break then your risk of catching these diseases is less than if you are going to be there for longer than a month. You will also need to consider what activities you are going to be involved with and where you are going to stay.

If you are going to stay at a clean hotel for one or two weeks then your risk of catching these diseases is less than if you are staying with family, friends or backpacking.

Typhoid is transmitted through contaminated food and water, so if you are going to areas with poor sanitation and food hygiene is poor then you will need to have Typhoid vaccine.

Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccines are also available combined in a single injection. Typhoid vaccines provide 3 year protection.

More than 2% of the population in Jamaica is known to be constantly infected with Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B is transmitted through contaminated blood and body fluids.

If your activities put you at risk of Hepatitis B then you may need Hepatitis B vaccine. The websites below provide detailed information on the type of activities that put you at greater risk and this includes tattooing, piercing and public shaving.

Hepatitis B vaccines consist of 3 doses. The first two doses are given one month apart. The third dose is given 6 months after the first dose.

It would be a good idea to consider your own particular risk and discuss this matter with your GP or travel nurse or doctor.

Rabies has not been reported in domestic or wild animals in Jamaica so most travelers are unlikely to be at risk of rabies. However, bats may carry the virus so you should avoid all contact with bats. The websites below provide detailed information on what to do should you get bitten by a bat.

In summary the main vaccines you will need are Diphtheria, Tetanus, Polio, Hepatitis A, Typhoid and may be Hepatitis B.

We normally suggest you have this vaccine a month before travel but if you have it as soon as possible you will be protected to a greater degree than if you do not have the vaccine.

It would be a good idea to avoid insect bite avoidance measures because although malaria is not a risk in Jamaica you will be at risk of Dengue fever and Zika virus. Both of these are transmitted via mosquito bites. We suggest you use insect repellent with DEET and wear long sleeved clothing and long trousers. Do not forget to reapply the repellent as recommended on the packaging. The websites below have a lot of information on how to avoid insect bite avoidance measures.

Travelhealthpro - vaccine recommendations

Fit for travel - Jamaica


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