Dubai health officials issue travel advice for residents taking Covid-19 vaccine

Authorities call on the public to seek medical advice before booking trips overseas

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Health officials in Dubai urge residents who intend to travel after being vaccinated against Covid-19 to seek medical advice before booking trips overseas.

In guidance issued on Sunday, Dubai Health Authority outlined the importance of being assessed by experts before embarking on holidays.

Dr Alia Mohammad Al Dallal, acting director of specialised programme services at the authority, said such steps were necessary to assess potential risks.

"In terms of the Covid-19 vaccine, people who intend to travel should first seek their healthcare provider’s advice so that they can assess their medical condition, allergies if any, pre-existing health conditions and accordingly seek advice with regard to the vaccine," Dr Al Dallal said.

The DHA encouraged anyone planning to travel out of the Emirates to ensure they are inoculated – be it for Covid-19 or other conditions – and to get the vaccinations at least a month prior to the journey to ensure they are fully effective.

Pre-travel health services are available at all DHA primary healthcare centres, including pre-travel counselling, risk assessment, vaccinations and medications.

The UAE approved China's Sinopharm vaccine for public use this month after Phase 3 trials found it was effective against coronavirus.

Dr Al Dallal said healthcare professionals provide comprehensive information on vaccines required when flying to certain destinations.

"There are mandatory vaccines such as yellow fever vaccine for African and South American countries," she said.

"Yellow fever presents the greatest health risk for visitors to South America and Central Africa. When patients visit us, we discuss the places they intend to travel, length of stay, their health, current prescriptions and vaccine history.

"After a detailed consultation, we recommend vaccines as well as educate them about other travel precautions based on their destination.

"Since vaccination requirements vary by country and some require second doses, it is important to visit a travel clinic at least one month prior to travel. Often travellers need more than one vaccine, so planning is recommended."

The rise of the pandemic has led to a greater need for passengers to abide by precautionary measures.

World travellers are required to take Covid-19 tests – either ahead of their flight or on arrival at their destination – as part of efforts to limit the spread of the virus.

"They may need to take the Covid-19 test prior to travel depending on the requirements of the travel destination," said Dr Al Dallal, a consultant family physician.

"They need to correctly time this test so that it is valid at the time of travel. They should also follow all the necessary precautionary measures such as wearing a mask, maintaining social distance and frequently washing or sanitising their hands."

In addition, travellers should have a first-aid kit on hand at all times and carry routine medications such as painkillers and antihistamines.

Dr Fatima Al Marzooqi, family medicine physician for the DHA primary healthcare sector, said there were crucial measures that could be followed to bolster safety.

"Most food and waterborne illnesses arise from contamination during food preparation or from contaminated water sources," Dr Al Marzooqi said.

"Practising safe eating and drinking habits is essential in minimising the risk of contracting food and waterborne diseases while travelling."

Dr Al Marzooqi also advised travellers to buy travel insurance to help to cover the costs of health emergencies.

She said clinics also provide prophylaxis medication such as anti-malaria tablets to those who are travelling to a country where there is a high-prevalence of the disease.

Dr Al Marzooqi said DHA's primary healthcare centres were the recognised yellow fever immunisation providers in Dubai.

In line with global health regulations, only government centres are authorised to issue the international vaccine certification.