Jabs? – No legal requirements

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The GVN provide a fantastic website for the volunteers with all sorts of useful and interesting information. I continue to be impressed by the efficiency of the staff and the organisation. 

One of the activities to cross off the list is of course, the jabs. What do we really need? When do we need to have them? And more importantly, where is that certificate that says what I have already had so I don’t need again!  

Here is a summary of the information provided by GVN. Obviously the main point is to consult a doctor first. 

 You will probably need the following vaccinations:

Legally Required Strongly Recommended Recommended
 None  Diphtheria/Tetanus  Rabies
 Polio  Tuberculosis
 Hepatitis A  Measles
 Hepatitis B  Malaria: recommended if visiting areas <2000m (6,561 ft)
 Typhoid  Yellow Fever: recommended if visiting jungle areas of the country <2300m (<7,546 ft.).

•    Legally required: you will require evidence of having these vaccinations, and may be requested to show this on arrival.

•    Strongly recommended: these should be considered essential for your travel.

•    Recommended: these are necessary for long term volunteers and strongly recommended if you are considering independent travel within the country.

There may also be epidemic outbreaks of some listed diseases which should be considered when traveling that we may not be aware of.

  • Rabies

Does exist in South America; the best advice is to give dogs a wide berth, and not to play with animals at all, no matter how cuddly they may look. Treat any bite as suspect: wash any wound immediately with soap or detergent and apply alcohol or iodine if possible. Act immediately to get treatment – rabies is fatal once symptoms appear. There is a vaccine, but it is expensive, serves only to shorten the course of treatment you need anyway and is effective for no more than three months.

  • Cholera

Is an acute bacterial infection, recognizable by watery diarrhoea and vomiting. However, risk of infection is considered low, particularly if you’re following the health advice we’ve given, and symptoms are rapidly relieved by prompt medical attention and clean water.

Do not drink tap water unless boiled or chemically treated, and avoid drinking anything with ice in it; avoid fruits and vegetables unless they can be peeled or are pre-cooked; and stay away from un-pasteurized dairy products, including ice cream. Do not eat raw or undercooked meat or fish – it may contain harmful poisons or parasites.

For more information about health issues, please visit the Centre for Disease Control Website 


Spread by mosquitoes, this disease can be fatal if not diagnosed quickly. Anti malarial medications can assist in attacking the disease, but these need to be chosen appropriately. Chloroquine, one drug that was once used worldwide, is not effective in some areas against malaria, so please seek the advice of a physician for an anti malarial that will protect you. You may have a medical condition that prevents you from the use of one form of anti malarial that will need to be considered by your own doctor.

There are several anti malarials on the market. Some affect people quite differently and each has its own benefits and drawbacks.

•    Doxycyline and Malarone: considered good quality forms of anti malarial.

•    Lariam (or Mefloquine): also effective but should be trialled by the user as it has been reported as causing significant mood changes, as well as sleep disturbances and abnormal dreams.

Whichever form of anti malarial you choose, it is essential that you know how and when to take it as it will only provide protection if used correctly. Make sure that you allow enough time prior to your travel to obtain medication and begin to medicate yourself.

Malaria can be in your system for some time before you show signs of illness. Regardless of where you are, in-country or back home, you should seek medical attention if you show any signs of flu-like symptoms or fevers within a year of travel. Alert the medical practitioner to the fact that you have been travelling in a malaria infected country and let them know what medication you were taking.

  • Additional measures you can take to protect yourself

•    You are most at risk at dusk or twilight when mosquitoes begin their day. Using mosquito nets is recommended. Soaking or spraying nets with appropriate insecticides or pyrethrum for additional protection is ideal. Nets need to be cared for. Mosquitoes are capable of eating through nets, so holes need to be mended. Nets should be hung so that no part of the net touches your skin, as bites will still occur through a net if it is resting on you. Edges should be tucked under the bed so that mosquitoes cannot crawl up under the net. You should also check each day before use that no mosquito has entered the net.

•    Spraying the room or using a plug in insecticide during the day will help eliminate any stray mosquitoes that may have entered the room.

•    Wearing long trousers and long sleeved clothing may not be practical with regards to the temperatures; however, they will aid in protecting your body from bites and should be worn after dark. Light colours are also less likely to attract mosquitoes.

•    Insect repellent containing DEET is most effective; the higher the level of DEET, the more protection you will receive. Lemon has also been known to act as a natural repellent, so you may like to seek assistance from a natural health store as an alternative.

•    For malaria, be sure that you have enough medication for the entire time you are travelling, as it is not recommended to switch medications during usage. Some anti malarial drugs are unavailable in some countries.



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