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Travel Medicine Program at Harrison Healthcare

Travel restrictions are easing up and people are increasingly comfortable leaving home to explore different corners of the world. It’s likely been a while since you considered the logistics to venture to far away places, but the nursing and travel medicine team at Harrison hasn’t forgotten what it takes to travel safely.

What is travel medicine?

The goal of travel medicine is to keep you healthy while you’re traveling abroad. Harrison Healthcare provides personalized travel consultations to all our clients at no additional cost giving you the confidence to travel at ease. Advice is tailored to each individual itinerary, location, and the activities planned (or potential). It is a one stop shop for a travel consult with facilitated access to any recommended vaccines or medications.

Travel medicine spans a diverse range of trips; a business meeting in Shanghai, a high-altitude trek in the Himalayas, a safari in Kenya, or a multi-country backpacking adventure in Europe. Regardless, you need to know what the current conditions, recommendations, and mandatory practices are to visit each location. What you needed last time you travelled to a location may have changed, and the Harrison team is up to date with the latest in global public health news.

How to access travel medicine services?

As soon as your trip is booked, let your Care Coordinator and team know when and where you are going. Some vaccines require multiple doses, or a specific time period before they can deliver complete protection, so prevention and care planning is more effective the sooner the team knows.

We start the process with a travel questionnaire. Here you can share information about your trip itinerary, duration of each leg of the trip and any activities you hope to participate in. This allows your travel medicine consultant to tailor the consultation specifically to risks pertaining to your trip, and ensure they have all the relevant updates readily available. Don’t worry if you can’t confirm exactly what you are doing – include everything you might try, and the consultant can review what different decisions would mean.

Every country poses different risks and sometimes risk can vary within a country. Malaria is a great example of something that may only impact certain parts of a country and/or at certain times of the year, and requires a careful review of local malaria risk zone maps to determine the need for anti-malarial medication.

Depending on your needs, consultations can be virtual or in person, for those requiring vaccines.

Are any medications required for travel?

Personalization is so important when it comes to medication that you aren’t taking on a regular basis. Based on your individual risk factors and health profile, along with risk factors in the area you are visiting, the team can access your complete health record and health history, so the travel consultant can make the appropriate decision regarding medication for each traveler. From altitude sickness to travelers’ diarrhea, it’s not “one size fits all.”

Which vaccines are often recommended?

The most recommended vaccines include Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, as well as routine vaccines such as tetanus and measles/mumps/rubella (MMR). However, there are other vaccines that need to be considered based on the risks identified during the travel consult. They may include typhoid fever, yellow fever, rabies, meningitis, polio, or Japanese encephalitis.

Did you Know? Harrison Healthcare is a Yellow Fever Designated Centre, approved by the Public Health Agency of Canada.


Common Travel Risks and their Medications

Typhoid Fever

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water.  While many travel vaccines provide long term protection and do not need to be repeated, typhoid vaccines are not one of them. Whether it’s a quick trip to an all-inclusive in Mexico, or heading farther afield to an adventure in south-east Asia, Typhoid vaccines should be checked before each trip. You should also consider that risk is higher among children, in rural areas, for travellers visiting friends and relatives, and for those travelling for longer periods of time. 

There are 2 types of Typhoid vaccines approved in Canada, injected and oral.  If you receive the injected inactivated version of the vaccine such as TyphimVi or ViVaxim, your protection from Typhoid will last about two years.  If you received the oral, live vaccine, ViVotif, protection will last up to five years. 


Rabies is a progressive viral infection of the brain that is transmitted by the bite or scratch of an infected mammal. Once symptoms develop, rabies is nearly always fatal. Dogs are the source of 96% of human rabies cases, but other animals, such as monkeys, bats, or raccoons can also transmit it.

In some countries, there is a lack of rabies immunoglobulin and/or the vaccines. This means that if you sustain an animal bite while travelling, you may have to leave that country quickly to receive a life-saving injection. Receiving the rabies vaccine prior to the trip, can mitigate this trip-ending misfortune.

Yellow Fever

Yellow fever is a serious disease present in parts of Africa and South America. Some countries require a proof of yellow fever vaccination for entry. Our travel medicine consultants can assist in identifying when this vaccine is required and provide the necessary certificates for travel.

Personalization is critical with this vaccine as there is potential for contraindication with other medications you may be taking. It is important to review your current and past medication prior to administering the vaccine safely.

Japanese encephalitis (JE)

Contrary to popular belief, Japanese encephalitis (JE) impacts trips beyond Japan. There is a risk for potentially severe viral infection in many areas of Asia and part of the western Pacific.

JE is transmitted via the bite of infected mosquitoes and is the leading cause of mosquito-borne brain inflammation in rural farming areas of these countries. For those staying in noted risk areas for more than one month, or visiting during the transmission season, a JE vaccine is typically recommended.


Meningitis is a rare illness, but its effects can be significant. These include paralysis, amputation, or even death. The “meningitis belt” crosses several African countries and outbreaks are common. Therefore, vaccination is recommended. Pilgrimages, such as the Hajj in the Middle East, where large masses of people congregate, also necessitate the use of this vaccine due to the substantial risk of transmission.


While polio has been eradicated in most parts of the world, there are still some countries where frequent outbreaks of polio can occur and thus a vaccine booster is advised.


Who provides the travel medicine services?

Since travel medicine is a specialized branch of medicine, our teams of travel medicine consultants have completed additional training in this area, including a Certificate in Travel Health from the International Society of Travel Medicine.

Is there a cost to this service?

The consultation is free to Premier, Foundations, and Harrison Kids clients. CHA clients, friends and family can access these consultations for a fee. The cost of vaccines and any prescriptions falls to the traveler, although we recommend checking with your benefits provider if you have one. Some may be covered by extended health plans.



We look forward to preparing you for your next big adventure!


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All services offered by Harrison Healthcare Inc. are for Canadian residents, and information provided on this site should not be considered solicitation for residents of other countries.

We would like to acknowledge with gratitude that we operate on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations in Vancouver, and of the Blackfoot Confederacy (Siksika, Kainai, Piikani), the Tsuut’ina, the Mountain Nakoda Nations, and the Métis Nation (Region 3) in Calgary. With appreciation, we recognize that these lands have been stewarded by them since time immemorial.

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