Travel health depends on your pre-departure preparations, your daily health care while traveling and how you handle any medical problem that does develop. While the potential dangers can seem quite frightening, in reality few travelers experience anything mole than flu or an upset stomach.
There are no vaccination requirements for travel to Russia, but some vaccinations are recommended for a healthy trip. Apart from the vaccinations following, consider asking your doctor for a flu jab-flu is the most likely health threat in Russia, particularly in late autumn or early spring, with virulent epidemics frequently appearing in major cities.
Plan ahead: some vaccinations require more than one injection, while some should not be given together (seek medical advice at least six weeks before travel). You should consider vaccinations for the following:
Diphtheria & Tetanus
Recommended for everyone, vaccinations for these two diseases are usually combined.
Vaccines including Avaxim, Havrix 1440 and VAQTA provide long-term immunity after an initial injection, then a booster at six to 12 months. Alternatively, an injection of gamma globulin can provide short-term protection against hepatitis A. Protective immediately, it is reasonably effective, unlike the vaccine, but because it is a blood product, there are current concerns about its long-term safety. Hepatitis A vaccine is also available as Twinrix, combined with hepatitis B vaccine. Three injections over a six-month period are required, the first two providing substantial protection against hepatitis A.
Consider vaccination if you are on a lung trip; visiting countries with high levels of hepatitis B infection, or where blood transfusions may not be adequately screened; or visiting regions where sexual contact or needle sharing is a possibility. Vaccination involves three injections, with a booster at 12 months. Rapid courses are available.
Japanese B Encephalitis
Consider vaccination if spending a month or longer in a high-risk area, such as parts of the Russian Far East and Siberia, of if making repeated trips to risk areas, or visiting; during an epidemic. It involves three injections over 30 days.
Everyone should keep up to date with this vaccination, normally given in childhood – a booster every 10 years maintains immunity.
Vaccination should be considered if spending month or longer in a country where rabies is common, especially if cycling, handling animals, caving or traveling to remote areas; children should also have it. Pre-travel rabies vaccination involves three injections over 21 to 28 days. If someone who has been vaccinated is bitten or scratched by an animal, they will require two booster injections of vaccine; those not vaccinated require more.
Tuberculosis The risk of TB to travelers is usually very low, unless you will be living among local people in high-risk areas. Vaccination against TB (BCG) is recommended for children and young adults living in these areas for three months or more.
Typhoid Vaccination, which may be required if traveling for more than a couple of weeks in most parts of Asia and Central and Eastern Europe, is now available as an injection or oral capsules. A combined hepatitis A/typhoid vaccine was launched recently but availability is limited: check with your doctor.
Make sure you have adequate health insurance.
If on a long trip, make sure your teeth are OK. If you wear glasses, take a spare pair and your prescription. If you require a particular medication, take an adequate supply as it may not be available locally, and bring part of the packaging showing the generic name rather than the brand to enable easier replacement. (it’s also a good idea to have a legible prescription or letter from your doctor to avoid any legal problems.)