A few weeks after his appointment at a Passport Health travel clinic in Toronto, a young man emailed the nursing manager in a panic from Thailand. He’d been scratched by a dog on a beach there and wasn’t protected against rabies.

Beatrix Morrallee directed him to a local medical facility that could give him the first in a series of shots required to protect him.

Morrallee didn’t say “I told you so,” but she could have. During his pre-trip visit to the clinic, the 21-year-old had brushed aside her suggestion that he get vaccinated against rabies.

“Nothing breaks my heart more than when travellers contact me in crisis. It can be really challenging for them,” says Morrallee.

The young man in Thailand learned the hard way what may other travellers already  know — a travel clinic and the specialists who work there offer an invaluable service to Canadians going abroad.

Travel clinics get daily health updates

Because travel is their specialty, these clinics are better equipped than primary care physicians to determine which vaccines a traveller needs and then provide them.

Most people know you need to be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B when you travel, but fewer realize you also need to protect yourself from a host of other illnesses. Depending on your travel destination, you may need to be vaccinated against typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, cholera, yellow fever, rabies, or other illnesses.

Some countries actually require certain vaccines. For example, travellers making the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca are required to produce a certificate of vaccination against meningitis in order to enter Saudi Arabia.

Because travel health specialists receive daily updates from the federal government and health agencies around the world, including the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they are best able to determine the required vaccines for each traveller. In addition, travel clinics are more likely to have all those vaccines on hand at any given time. The same is true for antimalarial pills and other special medications.

To ensure clients’ well-being while abroad, some travel clinics provide more than just vaccinations and medications. For example, Passport Health, which operates more than 250 travel clinics across North America, sends each client home with a package of information specific to his or her travel destination.

The package includes, among other items, a map indicating areas that are high-risk for various illnesses and contact information for local health facilities and Canadian embassies. It also includes tips on how to avoid diarrhea, food poisoning, and other ailments that often affect travellers.

“People often think getting vaccines makes them super-human but that isn’t so,” says Daniela Mora, Passport Health’s Operations Leader in Canada. “They still need to take precautions to stay healthy.”

Passport Health a one-stop shop for travellers

With the world becoming more of a global village every year, an increasing number of businesses are sending employees overseas — and asking them to visit travel clinics before each trip to ensure they remain as productive abroad as they are at home.

Photographer Bryan Pereira visited a Passport Health clinic in Toronto three years ago, before an extended trip to India and Africa. He walked out of the clinic at the end of his appointment having been vaccinated against several illnesses and holding a package of antimalarial pills, as well as an information kit he could rely on to stay healthy while abroad.

Pereira, who runs workshops and destination photography trips abroad, has been directing his clients to Passport Health ever since. “The service is streamlined and you get everything you need before heading out,” he says. “It’s a one-stop shop for travellers.”

“Having this information on hand minimizes anxiety so much,” says Mora. “Information is power and that’s what we provide.”

To find out more about Passport Health's nationwide wellness solutions visit passporthealthglobal.com/ca/.