ABC Guide to Travel Health - Vaccines, Vaccinations

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Influenza is an acute viral respiratory infection caused by various types of the influenza virus. Influenza ranges in severity from an asymptomatic infection to a fatal disease. 29

Transmission of influenza occurs by direct contact with droplets spread by coughs and sneezes and contamination of the hands.

Geographical distribution29
Worldwide. In temperate regions, influenza is a seasonal illness that occurs in winter (April to September in the southern hemisphere, and November to March in the northern hemisphere). In tropical regions there is no clear seasonal pattern, and influenza may occur at any time of the year.

Risk for travellers29
Travellers, like local residents, are at risk of infection during the influenza season. (The type of influenza virus can vary from year to year.) Individuals visiting countries in the opposite hemisphere during the influenza season are at special risk. Older people, those with a pre-existing chronic disease and very young children are most at risk of serious illness.7

Precautions and prevention

  • Influenza vaccination, with seasonal vaccine, is recommended for any traveller over 6 months of age. Vaccination is particularly recommended in people aged 65 years and older, or those who have other general medical conditions or lowered immunity. Travellers aged 65 years and older should also ensure that they are up to date, if not, vaccinated against pneumococcal disease in view of the risk of pneumococcal pneumonia following influenza infection.7 (see your doctor)
    Whenever possible, avoid crowded enclosed spaces and close contact with people suffering from respiratory infections.

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