Travel health in the pharmacy


AJP speaks with the owners of a travel destination pharmacy, who share their most commonly encountered concerns and recommended items

New research shows that Australian travellers are losing holiday time as they’re not aware of the health risks associated with travel, and are leaving the country unprepared.

According to the Travel Together Media Survey Report commissioned by Sanofi Pasteur, travellers who fell sick on their last trip to an ‘at-risk’ destination spent about one-third (31%) of their holiday bedridden or unwell.

And while Aussies are travelling to ‘at-risk’ destinations in record numbers, including South East Asia, South and Central America, Africa and the Middle East, research reveals that many (42%) aren’t getting health advice before they head off.

These diseases include hepatitis A, rabies, typhoid fever and yellow fever, which have the potential to ruin holidays and leave people with long-term symptoms, according to the Travel Together report.

In the last year, over half (58%) of Aussie travellers who fell ill on their last trip took between 1-3 days off work as a result of a travel-related illness.

Yvonne Nguyen and Susan Nguyen, the owners of Carmen Drive Pharmacy in Carlingford, NSW, say they are fully prepared to help their customers prepare for the risks and vagaries of travel.

“We are travel destination pharmacy as it fits well with our demographics,” they tell AJP.

“There are lots of self-funded retirees who love to travel, so it is a good talking point with a lot of customers. When they go away, we ask them to send a postcard of where they are visiting, and we stick them up on a wall.”

“This is a great way of giving others ideas on where to go and to talk about travel health.

“We have specialised travel specific products such as Travelan and Bushman’s DEET to differentiate ourselves as a travel health destination and have a dedicated travel section and decorated area,” say Yvonne and Susan.

“We always stock the vaccines that patients will require, and we are aware of doctors that are yellow fever accredited to refer our patients accordingly.

“We have a travel checklist tailored to different activities and forms of travel such as cruises and hiking.”

When it comes to the most common travel-related health discussions that they have in the pharmacy:

  1. Most people worry about getting sick whilst they are away such as traveller’s diarrhoea.
  2. If a customer is going on a cruise, we have lots of questions around travel sickness tablets.
  3. Regular prescription medicines – ensuring they take enough while they are away, have the label on the box, and have a letter from their doctor outlining what medications they are taking.
  4. Travel-specific prescription medications including anti-malarials and get them to see their doctor for any vaccinations they require
  5. General products they can buy at the pharmacy such as: insect repellents,  general first aid, such as Panadol, rehydration salts, antihistamines and sunscreen .
  6. We also provide advice on restrictions to certain medications in certain countries, such as   codeine in Dubai.

Yvonne and Susan’s top pharmacy items for travellers

  1. Insect repellent
  2. Travel-specific probiotic (Travalan)
  3. Analgesics
  4. Sunscreens
  5. Rehydration salts
  6. Basic first aid kits – antiseptic, bandaids
  7. Anti-diarrhoeals
  8. Sea sickness or ginger tablets
  9. Hand sanitiser

For more information, refer customers to websites such as www.vaccinehub.com.au and www.smartraveller.gov.au for additional travel support.

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