Travellers' profile, travel patterns and vaccine practices—a 10-year prospective study in a Swiss Travel Clinic

Rim Boubaker, Pierrette Meige, Catherine Mialet, Chantal Ngarambe Buffat, Mediatrice Uwanyiligira, Francine Widmer, Jacynthe Rochat, Annie Hérard Fossati, Manisinh Souvannaraj-Blanchant, Sylvie Payot, Laurence Rochat, Serge de Vallière, Blaise Genton, Valérie D'Acremont
Journal of Travel Medicine 2016, 23 (1)

BACKGROUND: The travel clinic in Lausanne serves a catchment area of 700 000 of inhabitants and provides pre- and post-travel consultations. This study describes the profile of attendees before departure, their travel patterns and the travel clinic practices in terms of vaccination over time.

METHODS: We included all pre-travel first consultation data recorded between November 2002 and December 2012 by a custom-made program DIAMM/G. We analysed client profiles, travel characteristics and vaccinations prescribed over time.

RESULTS: Sixty-five thousand and forty-six client-trips were recorded. Fifty-one percent clients were female. Mean age was 32 years. In total, 0.1% were aged <1 year and 0.2% ≥80 years. Forty-six percent of travellers had pre-existing medical conditions. Forty-six percent were travelling to Africa, 35% to Asia, 20% to Latin America and 1% (each) to Oceania and Europe; 19% visited more than one country. India was the most common destination (9.6% of travellers) followed by Thailand (8.6%) and Kenya (6.4%). Seventy-three percent of travellers were planning to travel for ≤ 4 weeks. The main reasons for travel were tourism (75%) and visiting friends and relatives (18%). Sixteen percent were backpackers. Pre-travel advice were sought a median of 29 days before departure. Ninety-nine percent received vaccine(s). The most frequently administered vaccines were hepatitis A (53%), tetanus-diphtheria (46%), yellow fever (39%), poliomyelitis (38%) and typhoid fever (30%).

CONCLUSIONS: The profile of travel clinic attendees was younger than the general Swiss population. A significant proportion of travellers received vaccinations that are recommended in the routine national programme. These findings highlight the important role of travel clinics to (i) take care of an age group that has little contact with general practitioners and (ii) update vaccination status. The most commonly prescribed travel-related vaccines were for hepatitis A and yellow fever. The question remains to know whether clients do attend travel clinics because of compulsory vaccinations or because of real travel health concern or both.

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