Survey: 72% Of Malaysians Do Not Consult Their Doctors About Vaccination Before Travelling

Vaccines can help avoid the risk of contracting an infectious disease, especially for those with a vulnerable immune system.

Cover image via Francesco Ungaro (Unsplash) & Elaine Tu (Unsplash)

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Everyone has different approaches when it comes to travelling

After more than a couple years of staying put, it's natural to want to break out your passports and see the world again. Some may be hesitant to travel out of the country, while others may have vacations already scheduled for the upcoming holidays.

Even so, we can't deny that travelling now and prior to COVID-19 was a lot different. There are changes in our attitudes and practices when preparing to travel. 

With COVID-19 still around, falling sick is still a concern. Not only is getting sick an unpleasant way to end a holiday, but it also causes us to worry about spreading germs and bacteria to our loved ones or travel companions.

And, apart from COVID-19, there are also other vaccine-preventable infectious diseases that we can be exposed to while on holidays such as influenza (flu), Hepatitis A, Typhoid fever, and others. 

We ran a survey to find out what Malaysians currently think about travelling. Over 400 people shared their thoughts and opinions.

Here are the findings:

1. Although we are amidst a pandemic, almost 51% of people told us that they have already started travelling

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Since travel restrictions were lifted, many Malaysians have started to travel once again, after around two years of not being able to go anywhere. 

However, about 13% of respondents are still wary about travelling.

2. Of those who have started travelling, a majority have already embarked on journeys to other countries besides Malaysia

About 7 in 10 Malaysians have already started travelling internationally or have plans to travel internationally. 

With borders closed due to the outbreak of COVID-19, both international and local holidays were put on hold. Now that borders have finally reopened, it seems that many Malaysians are making the most of it by going on long-awaited trips to overseas locations. 

3. In contrast, for Malaysians who are still wary about travelling, the most common reason (40%) was not having enough money saved up

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Other reasons for not travelling yet include feeling like it's still unsafe (26%), too busy with work (17%), and not feeling the need to travel (14%). 

4. Many Malaysians don't consult their doctors about vaccination before they go on holiday

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Vaccinations are usually not required before leaving the country. However, it is recommended to consult a doctor before departure to check if vaccination is necessary, as it's a simple, safe, and effective way of protecting you against harmful diseases before you come into contact with them. Some of the common travel vaccines include tetanus, measles, and polio vaccines. 

According to Dr Hazlee Abdul Hadi, vaccination can help certain groups of travellers who are more at risk compared to others like children under the age of 15, pregnant women, seniors over the age of 60, and people who are immunocompromised. 

72% of respondents said that they don't consult their doctors about vaccination options prior to travelling, while the other 28% do actually do so, depending on their travel destination. 

5. As we know, wearing face masks is no longer mandatory in many countries. However, 36% of Malaysians said they'd still wear face masks when travelling, both outdoors or indoors.

Another 37% said they would wear it depending on the situation. 

We can all agree that in the beginning, it was uncomfortable to wear a mask every day for many hours. But, now it has almost become a standard practice in our lives where we don't leave the house without it.

Being in a congested and poor-ventilated area can expose you to infectious diseases carried by airborne droplets such as influenza (flu) and chicken pox, which is why it's better to wear a mask or take certain vaccines as a precaution.  

6. When it comes to taking precautions, Malaysians still do take necessary steps to ensure their health is in tip-top shape

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From the survey, almost 56% would consider taking travel insurance in case of unexpected situations, so their money doesn't go to waste. Another 51% of Malaysians would take a COVID-19 self-test kit and 42% would chug vitamin C before their vacation. 

Despite being eager to travel again, it looks like many Malaysians still do take necessary precautions to make sure their immunity is strong.

If you are planning to travel soon, one other option you can look into is getting vaccinated for a safer, worry-free holiday!

Image via Vecteezy

Have you ever gotten sick before or during your holiday? It's honestly the worst, especially if you have already planned a fun-packed itinerary.

One of the sicknesses most of us aren't aware of is influenza (flu). If you didn't know, the common cold and influenza (flu) have very similar symptoms. So, even when you think you might have a normal cold, it could be influenza (flu).

The difference is that if you have influenza (flu), you're more likely to have a severe fever, dry cough, fatigue, muscle and joint pains, headache, and chills, all of which could last for over two weeks. But, a person with a common cold might have symptoms like sore throat, sneezing, cough, and loss of appetite.

According to Dr Koh Kar Chai, a general practitioner and flu prevention advocate, influenza (flu) actually has one of the highest mortality rates in Southeast Asia

He added that elderly people are at high risk because their immune system is less effective in fighting off infectious diseases like influenza (flu), which may cause serious complications especially if they also have co-existing diseases affecting the lungs, heart, liver, and kidneys.

Since Malaysia entered the endemic phase, we can see a rise in influenza (flu) cases which has the potential to spread rapidly, especially through international travel. According to the National Public Health Laboratory, there is an increase in the consultation rate for influenza-like illness (ILI) and the admission rate of patients with a severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) since the last week of December 2019.

With influenza (flu) vaccination, you can avoid catching influenza (flu) bugs prior to or during your holiday. Plus, Dr Koh also mentioned that people with influenza (flu) vaccine were able to protect themselves as the vaccine has shown to decrease the risk of fatality by 48% among the elderly.

Other than maintaining self-hygiene like washing your hands frequently with hand soap or using hand sanitiser, covering your mouth while coughing or sneezing, and also practising a minimum of one-metre social distancing, The Ministry of Health Malaysia also recommends that people take annual vaccination to prevent influenza (flu) infection.

These vaccines are updated each year to keep up with the constantly-mutating viruses. So, you won't have to worry about catching the newest viral influenza (flu) infection, wherever you may be.

For more information on influenza (flu), do consult your doctor and check out this website

The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader's own medical care.

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