Travel Health Fact Sheet

Research commissioned by Sanofi Pasteur

1. Who is an ‘at - risk’ traveller?

People who have travelled in the last five years to a region with a known risk of contracting infectious diseases, for which vaccinations or other precautions are recommended, are considered ‘at - risk’ travellers.  

2) What is classified an ‘ at- risk’ destination?
The following areas are considered ‘at - risk’ because of the possibility of contracting an infectious disease that we rarely have in Australia: Asia, Middle East, Africa, South America and the Pacific Islands.  

3) What are the common vaccine-preventable diseases travellers are at risk of?

Disease prevalence differs by destination, but some of the most common vaccine-preventable diseases include
  •    Typhoid
  •    Hepatitis A
  •    Hepatitis B
  •    Cholera
  •   Meningococcal disease
  •    Rabies
  •    Polio
  •   Yellow fever
  •    Influenza
  •    Japanese encephalitis 2

4) Why should I talk to a healthcare professional before I travel? 

Although travel-related vaccine-preventable diseases are rare, the consequences can be high. It is recommended that you speak to your doctor six to eight weeks prior to travelling overseas to discuss suitable measures that can be taken to avoid infectious diseases to which you might be exposed to while overseas. This might include measures to avoid consuming potentially contaminated water or food, medication to reduce the risk of acquiring infections or vaccination options against serious disease.  

5) What can I do to avoid getting sick while away? 

You can reduce the risk of getting an infectious disease when travelling by taking some simple preventative measures. Advice on the main health risks of travelling to particular countries can be found online at VaccineHub , Smartraveller or by consulting a doctor experienced in travel medicine. 
Some common measures which will help reduce the risk of infectious disease in many parts of the world are: 
  1. Protect yourself from insects: The most reliable way to make sure you don’t catch a mosquito -borne disease is to wear a mosquito repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) or Picaridin which will help avoid being bitten by a mosquito.
  2. Be aware of the risk of rabies: Travellers should be very careful around wild or feral animals, especially dogs, in all nations outside Australia and New Zealand. Avoid handling or feeding wild animals as they might bite or scratch. Animals carrying rabies often do not behave differently or look unwell. 
  3. Think about what you eat or drink: The sources of food-borne illness are not always obvious. A glass of soft drink might be safe but the ice in the glass could be made with contaminated water.

6)  If I was born overseas and travelling to visit friends and family, do I still need to get vaccinated?

People who are travelling overseas to visit friends or relatives (called VFR travellers) are at higher risk of some  diseases. This is because they tend to stay longer, eat local food in people’s homes and may not take  precautions (such as preventing mosquito bites or getting vaccinated) as other tourists to. They, mistakenly, often believe that they are immune to the disease risks. Immunity often disappears after they move away and is not inherited from family members. 

  •   3 in 5 (63%) ‘ at-risk ’ travellers did not get vaccinated before their last trip because they were not fully aware of the risks.
  •    In the last five years, 51% of Australians have travelled to ‘at -risk ’ regions where there is a considerable risk of contracting preventable diseases such as Hepatitis A and malaria. This equates to 9.5 million Australians.
  •   53% of men are more likely to have had their travel vaccination before leaving, whereas women are only 44% likely to have been vaccinated.
  • Before leaving, ‘ at-risk ’ travellers purchased travel insurance (84%), followed by having a travel first aid / medicine kit (58%) or seeing a doctor for a pre-travel health check (54%).
  •  3 in 5 (59%) ‘at - risk’ travellers have never really thought about bringing illnesses back to Australia. 
  • More than half (55%) of ‘ at-risk ’ travellers believe they can’t expose friends/family to illnesses they might  have picked up unless they have obvious symptoms.
  •  For two thirds (67%) of ‘ at-risk ’ travellers, falling ill while travelling could have a serious impact on their  financial situation once they return home.

    Sick days and work productivity:
  •  In those travellers who became ill when overseas, more than half (52%) had to have time off work when they came home. Of those, more than 40% had more than 3 days off work.
  •    More than 9 in 10 (96%) ‘ at-risk ’ travellers who became ill on their last trip, reported feeling unwell during their trip, and two thirds (67%) felt unwell upon their return. 3 in 5 (58%) were less productive at work and more than half (52%) were off sick / unable to go to work.

  • Business Travellers:
  •    Nearly half (46%) of ‘ at-risk ’ travellers have gone overseas for work/business in the past five years. 
  •   On average, these travellers were overseas for 2.2 business trips per year. 
  •   Employers provided vaccinations for half (50%) of business travellers before their last business trip, and for a quarter (26%), these vaccinations were mandatory. 
  •    Amongst business travellers who had some degree of travel advice or protection organised by their employer on their last business trip, more than half (53%) would not seek pre-travel health advice if it wasn’t for their company’s travel health policy and 55% rarely have time for a travel health consultations before travelling for business. 
  •    4 in 5 (82%) business travellers expect their employer to have a travel health policy as part of employment, rather than it being an employee benefit. 
  • Mature Travellers:
  •   Older travellers have not discussed specific travel health topics with their doctor before their last trip, most significantly for altitude sickness (66%), malaria prevention / mosquito avoidance (41%), rabies / animal bite avoidance (64%), safe eating and drinking advice (39%), jetlag (66%). 1
  •    60% of Australian baby boomers who have recently travelled to an ‘at - risk’ destination do not believe that there is a risk of spreading a travel-related disease once home. 
  • Travellers visiting friends and family:
  •    3 in 5 (59%) ‘ at-risk ’ travellers believe Australians born in developing countries retain resistance to many diseases they were exposed to in their country of birth. 
  •   More than 2 in 5 (43%) ‘ at-risk ’ travellers believe that Australian children whose parents grew up in developing countries inherit immunity to diseases in those countries from their parents. 
  •   Almost half (49%) of ‘ at-risk ’ travellers believe Australians returning to their country of origin to visit friends and family are less likely to become sick during their stay, compared to Australians who travel there for other reasons.  

About Sanofi Pasteur:
Sanofi, a global healthcare leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients' needs. Sanofi has core strengths in diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, consumer healthcare, emerging markets, animal health and Genzyme. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN ) and in New York (NYSE: SNY ).

Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, provides more than 1 billion doses of vaccine each year, making it possible to immunize more than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine industry, Sanofi Pasteur produces a portfolio of high quality vaccines that match its areas of expertise and meet public health demand. The company's heritage, to create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century. Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines. Every day, the company invests more than EUR 1 million in research and development. For more information, please visit: or

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