by Pavithra Ravinatarajan RPh
There has certainly been a shift in the travel industry. As COVID-19 has changed a lot of our travel plans, how they have changed has been an interesting shift. Over the past several months countries have been trying to identify how they will handle visitors to their country, and many have started to open their doors to visitors.
During this time some of us may have accumulated a large amount of vacation time over this past year we have not used yet. Others find themselves realizing that their work can now be done remotely. But what does this have to do with travel? Quite a lot actually, and with these new situations we are seeing a new form of travel. The distance/exotic traveler is different from your frequent or more local traveller. Here are a few important things to consider when dealing with these travellers:
How well do you know the destinations?
What you know about your destination is key when travelling abroad to an exotic place. Travellers should become accustomed to local requirements. Entry requirements have always been something travellers have had to be wary of. From ensuring they understand the visa requirements, any fees that are required at the destination and what currency is commonly used. However, with COVID there are more requirements travellers should keep at top of mind. What health requirements has the destination put in place?
It may be anything from:
Negative PCR test for COVID-19, one that is taken within a certain time frame
Depending on the country your patient is travelling to, there are various requirements. Be sure to have your patients check with their travel agent or the government of Canada website on travel for details. Read the directions thoroughly, some countries require a test to be TAKEN on a certain date while other require the RESULTS to be given by a certain date. Ensure that these timelines are feasible with current testing methods.
A COVID-19 test (PCR or Antigen test) taken at time of entry
Understanding that some destinations may require you to have an exam upon entry to that location. It may be a questionnaire, a temperature check or a COVID-19 test that you will need to quarantine until the results have come in. Patients/travellers need to be aware that they are prepared for these situations. If they have specific diets, medication needs or conditions that may need to be taken into considerations.
A health document that must be filled out
Many places will also require a health document affadavit of sorts to be filled out.
Questions can be complex or unclear as to how a patient/traveller should answer them.
Travellers/patients may travel to a destination that requires them to quarantine for a certain period of time before they are allowed to move around. They may also be restricted to certain areas while they are away. Will they have access to needed facilities? Needed items for their medical conditions? are
As the one of the most accessible healthcare providers this provides us the opportunity to help our patients during this time. Travel can be hectic on the best of times, especially to an exotic destination. During this time with all the additional considerations and preparations due to COVID patients may forget about other fundamental considerations.
Vaccines play an important role in ensuring a safe and pleasant trip/stay abroad. Many patients may be aware of vaccinations needed for common travel, such as down south, but not aware of what other vaccinations they may need when going to a more exotic place.
Here are few medications you may want to discuss with your patients:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Japanese Encephalitis
- Traveller’s Diarrhea
- Altitude Sickness (Acute Mountain Sickness)
Consider double checking if routine vaccinations are up to date for your patient.
As the winter months set in, patients will be more enticed to travel somewhere warm. Remember to mention that there are more precautions travellers should take to ensure a safe and pleasant trip. The ease of access to medically needed items not be the same as they were pre-COVID. Ensure patients who are travelling consider the following:
- Medication supply
- Additional emergency supply of medication
- Medical devices, with back up devices
- Administration products (i.e alcohol swabs, alcohol, gauze, cotton balls, etc.)
- Symptom relief items (such as pain cream, over the counter medications, etc.)
An exotic traveller/distance traveller must remember it will not be as easy to get back home and it is important to prepare. Remind patients that it is not only travel that has changed but also how many countries operate. You may not be able to access needed health products or care as readily as previously. It is better to be prepared for all possibilities.
Remember to ask your patients who are travelling: “How are you preparing for your travel?”
Read Part 1 here.
Pavithra Ravinatarajan RPh is the founder and CEO of Pavithra Consulting Inc.