Local pharmacies are an important addition to any pre-flight travel itinerary, preparing Canadians for the risks associated with travel.
As a sense of normalcy re-emerges, travel is once again a hallmark of the annual calendar. For Canadians especially, a reprieve from winter weather is welcome, and hundreds of thousands will descend (literally) on warm destinations over the coming months. While travel remains one of life’s exciting luxuries, there’s more to consider than the number of shoes to pack before boarding that transcontinental flight.
For pharmacists, while travel symbolizes an exciting opportunity to get back to regular life, it also represents important conversations that need to be had around travel health and immunization. In the wake of the pandemic,
Canadians are more aware than ever of the risks associated with travel, but while COVID-19 may top the list, common threats that existed pre-pandemic shouldn’t be pushed to the back burner.
Navigating a changing health care system
Like with many industries, a pharmacist’s role has changed over the last decade, exacerbated partly by the pandemic. Pharmacists have grown to become an integral part of many Canadians’ health care teams, building long-standing relationships with their patients, often due to accessibility and a less formal atmosphere.
Pharmacist & Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Waterloo
“The pharmacy is a place where people feel safe when they’re at a vulnerable place in their life,” says Pavrithra Ravinatarajan, a pharmacist and Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Waterloo. “People have the chance to ask questions and be curious, which in turn can help reveal important elements that might not have been discussed during a general practitioner (GP) appointment.”
For many health-related issues, the most accessible first stop is your local pharmacy – travel health related matters are one such example. When it comes to upcoming holiday plans, your local pharmacist can provide you with important information regarding health risks and preventative measures to take for your travel destination.
“Luckily, post-pandemic, people are recognizing how much of a resource their pharmacy can be,” says Ravinatarajan. “They’re a lot more conscious of travel safety, and there’s more general awareness on how vaccines can protect.”
Pharmacist & Owner, Mint Health + Drugs
Pharmacists can offer important education and support regarding how to prevent illness and what steps can be taken to avoid sickness before you even board the plane, helping to make sure holidays involve trips to the beach and not to the ER. “Simply speaking, seeking advice from someone who’s an expert in travel health is preventative health,” says Carlene Oleksyn, owner and pharmacist at Mint Health + Drugs outside Edmonton, Alta. “Travel health is like wearing a seatbelt. It may not seem necessary at the time but, when you need it, a seatbelt saves lives and avoids hardship.”
We may associate travel with sandy beaches, exotic foods, and good company, however international travellers run the risk of facing foreign illnesses they may be unprepared for. These can range from minor annoyances to more severe disease, some even coupled with long-lasting symptoms that extend far beyond the flight home. Pharmacists can provide helpful insights guided by individual travel plans, customizing recommendations to fit both a chosen destination and any activities planned. From lounging by the sea to rafting down the Amazon River, no one’s travel activities — and therefore their travel health preparations — look the same. Vaccines, however, are more important than ever and can play a vital role in making sure travel remains the carefree mental break that so many of us are seeking.
Expertise within reach
Pharmacists across Canada can administer most travel vaccines or offer solutions for common travel health concerns.
For example, there’s an oral vaccination that might be recommended by your pharmacist that helps to prevent the dreaded diarrhea during travel. But as Oleksyn notes, “Travel health isn’t just vaccinations. It’s education on how to prevent disease, what to do if you get sick abroad, and how to access care.”
For those planning to venture beyond traditional resort travel, seeking travel health advice should certainly top the pre-packing list, and your local pharmacist should be the first stop on the itinerary. They know their stuff — across Canada, many pharmacists have chosen to pursue advanced education in travel health, accredited through the International Society of Travel Medicine. Pharmacists with this accreditation have training related to the most updated travel health recommendations, which is particularly important when facing more complex travel-related illnesses like malaria and yellow fever.
Adventures abroad offer an opportunity to see the world, experience new and exciting cultures, and break away from mundane everyday routines. Arming yourself with the most up-to-date advice and immunizations can help ease travel stress. It’s as simple as a quick stop to your local pharmacist.
To learn more about travel health precautions, visit HowToTravelNow.ca, or head to your local pharmacy.
This story was created by Mediaplanet on behalf of a Canadian biopharmaceutical company.