DHA’s Travellers’ Clinics offer information on the health problems visitors may face at their destination in addition to pre-travel vaccinations Image Credit: Getty

If you want to protect yourself and your family when travelling, it’s important to get the necessary vaccinations. Dubai Health Authority (DHA) is encouraging families who plan to travel during summer and Eid break to take the necessary pre-travel vaccinations at least two weeks prior to the journey to ensure the effectiveness of the vaccines.

Travellers’ clinics

DHA has two dedicated Travellers’ Clinics in Nad Al Hammar and Al Barsha primary healthcare centres, which are the hub for pre-travel medical services such as vaccinations, risk assessment and advice.

“While there has been an increase in awareness about pre-travel vaccines, we still see families who come to us a week or a few days prior to travel,” says Dr Fathiya Sarkal, Deputy Director of DHA Travellers’ Clinics. “We inform them that we cannot be sure of the effectiveness of the vaccine unless it is administered at least a month to minimum two weeks prior to the date of travel and we recommend that they postpone their travel dates. Therefore, to avoid all such hassles our advice is to understand the importance of pre-travel vaccines and medical advice and incorporate this when they plan to travel.

“We provide a full range of services for travellers and are up to date with the latest in terms of country-specific disease prevalence and outbreaks. Based on the updates from the World Health Organisation and the Centre for Disease Control, we notify passengers about health problems they may face while travelling to their destination and provide them with counselling services, which include administering required vaccinations, providing preventive medicines as well as issuing international certification that states the necessary vaccine has been provided.”

Dr Sarkal says that year-on-year there has been an increase in the number of travellers for both business and leisure and the clinics provide vaccines to residents and visitors.

S. Sahiwala, a Dubai resident, visited the Al Barsha Health Centre with her daughter three weeks prior to the onset of their summer vacation.

“We are travelling to Tanzania this year and we wanted to get the yellow fever vaccine,” she says. “In addition to this vaccine, we were informed of other precautions to take to prevent illnesses during our travel. Such comprehensive medical travel advice is very helpful for families to ensure they take the necessary precautions while on holiday.”

Authorised centres

DHA’s Travellers’ Clinics follow the protocol set up by the US-based Centres for Disease Control and Prevention on the health requirements for travel and are certified by the World Health Organisation as yellow fever immunisation providers in Dubai.

The pre-travel advice takes into account the destination, length of stay, medical and vaccine history, current medical state and mandatory and recommended vaccines for the destination. On the significance of the services, Dr Hend Ahmed Alawadhi, Specialist Public Health Medicine, Nad Al Hammar Health Centre, explains that residents need to take precautionary measures prior to travel. “There are mandatory vaccines such as yellow fever vaccine for African and South American countries and meningococcal vaccine for pilgrims,” she says. “The clinic follows international protocol during outbreaks, so certain vaccines become mandatory during these periods.”

Dr Alawadhi says health risk assessment takes into account vaccines that travellers need according to their state of health.

As per the global health regulation rules, only government centres are authorised to issue the international vaccine certification. In Dubai, Al Baraha Hospital, which is one of the hospitals under the UAE Ministry of Health, and the two Travellers’ Clinics under the DHA Primary Healthcare Sector are the authorised entities to provide these certificates.

To contact the DHA branches, call 04 502 3701 for Nad Al Hammar and 04 502 3301 for Al Barsha.