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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Pretravel advice and hepatitis A immunization among Australian travelers

Nicholas Zwar, Catherine L Streeton
Journal of Travel Medicine 2007, 14 (1): 31-6
17241251

BACKGROUND: More Australians are traveling to overseas destinations where preventable infectious diseases, such as hepatitis A, are endemic. Yet, there is only limited data concerning the extent to which Australians seek travel advice and vaccination before their departures.

METHOD: Annual telephone surveys were conducted among adult Australians travelers. Information was collected on the travel advice and vaccinations received before departure. Perceptions about, and their potential exposure to, travel-related infections while overseas were also assessed. This paper presents data from the 2003 survey related to travel advice and hepatitis A, while hepatitis B is discussed in the companion article.

RESULTS: Only a third of interviewees had sought health advice before travel. Infrequent travelers, those departing for endemic countries or for longer journeys, were more likely to seek medical advice. Overall, 32% of interviewees had been vaccinated against hepatitis A, with travelers to high/medium-hepatitis A endemicity destinations being more likely to be vaccinated than those visiting low-endemicity countries (44% vs 20%). Among the 263 visitors to endemic countries, those who stayed with friends and relatives were least likely to be vaccinated against hepatitis A compared to other styles of accommodation.

CONCLUSIONS: Despite government recommendations and industry group campaigns about the need for pretravel advice, the majority of Australians travel overseas without adequate health advice and protection against hepatitis A and other travel-related infectious diseases.

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