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Take your Best Shot

Vaccination policies ensure your globe-trotting travellers are safe

By Astrid Van Den Broek

Your VP of sales’ visit to Mumbai is booked. Her hotel room reserved and itinerary confirmed. And her vaccinations? “For the vast majority of business travellers doing a one-off trip or who haven’t travelled abroad before, vaccinations aren’t top of mind,” says Ray Christopherson, owner of Vancouver’s Travel Medicine Vaccination Centre (TMVC).

That is unless you’re with a larger company involved in regular travel. “They generally have corporate policies preparing employees for travelling abroad,” notes Christopherson. “But the smaller companies who are, say going to seek out its first contract in China for example, they won’t have any policy around it.”

Instead, the responsibility falls to corporate travellers to look into the necessary vaccinations, which can range in price from $50 to over $1,000 if you’re vaccinating a whole family for a long-term business travel placement. (Travel vaccination policies should include what the company covers: if not, travellers should talk to managers before vaccination about expensing the costs.)

What and when
And the shots required? It largely depends on the destination—a trip to Angola for example might require vaccines for Malaria, Hepatitis A and even Rabies, whereas an extended stay in China might entail shots for Japanese Encephalitis or Polio. The Travel Health section of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s website (phac-aspc.gc.ca) lists required and recommended vaccinations by country. “There are many factors that go into what vaccines are needed,” notes Christopherson. “Including the destination, the person’s general state of health, their past health history, their immunization history and more.”

So where to start if your company doesn’t have a policy around it? While travellers can head to a private clinic such as the TMVC directly, they can also call their family physician. “I’d suggest that even in the planning process, prior to booking a ticket, look at what’s required,” says Mary Jane Hiebert, manager of Steinbach, Manitoba’s Canada One Travel and member of the Association of Canadian Travel Agents. “Also, make sure you allow enough time because timing is critical with vaccinations. Certain vaccinations have to happen prior to leaving the country or upon arrival in a country and if you haven’t had them, you may be denied entry.”

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