The end of 2018 school year is approaching and it is important to ensure children and young adults are up to date with their vaccinations before commencing any planned travel and year 12 students head off to Schoolies.
“Immunisation is a great way to protect children and teenagers against diseases that cause serious illness”, said Dr Krause, Director of the Centre for Disease Control. Reducing the spread of disease protects those who are vaccinated but also those in the community who may not be able to receive vaccines themselves or have weakened immune systems.
Centre for Disease Control recommends people who are planning on attending nationwide and overseas Schoolies celebrations visit their GP before travelling to ensure their immunisations are up to date. “In a group setting such as Schoolies, there is a greater risk of exposure to serious infections such as meningococcal disease and measles but we have an effective vaccine to protect against these diseases” said Dr Krause.
The Northern Territory Government currently funds the meningococcal ACWY vaccine for all children 1-19 years and a catch up vaccination program for teenagers aged under 19 who have missed any childhood immunisations including measles vaccine. Dr Krause added, “It takes approximately 2 weeks for vaccines to be effective, therefore visit your local your GP at least 2 weeks prior to attending Schoolies celebrations or travelling”.
School leavers travelling overseas for Schoolies celebrations, particularly to South East Asia and the Indian subcontinent, it is important to be vaccinated against typhoid, Hepatitis A, cholera and to have a tetanus booster.
“For students intending to visit Papua New Guinea there is a recommendation to carry a hand held vaccination record of polio vaccines received prior to departure in view of the current polio outbreak in the country” said Dr Krause. Travellers to Papua New Guinea should have a booster polio vaccine if they have not had one in the last 10 years.
The Department of Health also reminds school leavers travelling overseas of the increased risk of contracting rabies, which in most cases is fatal. The disease is most commonly contracted through bites or scratches from infected animals such as dogs, monkeys, bats and rodents. We strongly urge people not to handle dogs, monkeys or other wild animals overseas due to the risk of catching rabies.
People visiting places endemic to dengue fever and malaria, should also protect themselves against mosquitoes. The best way to make sure you don’t catch a disease like malaria or dengue is to wear light coloured clothing that covers exposed skin, use a mosquito net at night-time (if mosquitoes are likely to be present), wear a mosquito repellant containing DEET or picaridin in addition to protective clothing and avoid areas of high mosquito activity.
Finally, celebrate Schoolies responsibly. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption, practice safe sex and avoid the use of drugs. It important that teenagers attending Schoolies celebrations practice safer sex by using condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections such as HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis.
For more information about the health risks associated with different destinations, consult your GP, travel doctor or the Australian Government’s Smartraveller website.
Source: NT Government