Campus Life

Winter getaway must include health plan


An inherent part of being Canadian seems to be dreaming of getting away from our cold winter weather to find a nice warm spot down south. Just remember, that in addition to sunscreen, cruise wear and a new pair of flip-flops, you have to think about maintaining your health while on vacation. And if you are considering travelling at Christmas or during spring break, your travel planning must start now!

A good place to start preparing for your trip begins at, the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website that gives you a lovely checklist (Before You Leave Canada) of reminders about the variety of concerns you need to address before leaving the country.

In terms of your health needs, plan to take extra copies of your prescriptions and medical certificates, and to bring extra medical supplies and even eyeglasses.

Travel immunizations are important and definitely need attention. Because health concerns are rapidly changing in some areas of the world, the best way to get travel health and immunization information is to book an appointment with the Travel Health Nurse at the Public Health office. While there is a cost for this consultation, this person has the most current information on the immunizations needed in your specific travel area.

At your immunization appointment, the nurse will ask where you are going and, using the latest information available from Center for Disease Control or World Health Organization, may direct you to a variety of injections, vaccinations or medication. Some of these medications will be available through Public Health and the nurse may direct other medications or vaccinations to be administered by your family doctor. The sooner you book your appointment the better as some vaccinations take several months to complete.

Do not show up at a physician's appointment expecting that a family physician will know what you need for a trip to an exotic locale.

As for cost, it is expected that you build the cost of public health travel advice, some medications/immunizations, doctor's visits and other charges into your vacation budget. You will be required to pay for all visits related to travel health (even your physician must charge YOU, not Alberta Health Care for your travel medication/immunization/health advice).

Example of costs you may encounter:

Public Health Travel Advice ($35.00)

Medications/Immunizations from Public Health (medication and costs depend on country and current outbreaks)

Physician visit, if needed for medication that Public Health cannot provide ($50-$150)

But remember, if you are travelling and getting away from minus temperatures for days of sun and sand – it will all be worth it!

Lori Weber is the manager of the University of Lethbridge Health Centre

This story first appeared in the December 2011 issue of the Legend. If you'd like to see the full issue in a flipbook format, follow this link.