With the Clinique Santé-voyage, no question remains unanswered

5589In the following section, we’ve listed the questions people most often ask the experts of our travel health team. If you can’t find the answers or advice you need, please call us or drop by the Clinique!


Duration of visits at the Clinique Santé-voyage

How long does a visit to the Clinique Santé-voyage usually take?

If you have an appointment, allow about one hour. Your consultation with the nursing specialist lasts 20 to 30 minutes on average, depending on your needs. About one-third of our travellers must then see the doctor as well.

If you plan to come and see us without an appointment the time it takes may vary depending on the number of people at the clinic, staff on duty and the time of year.

Number of necessary consultations for immunization

Is it possible to receive all my vaccines in just one visit?

In most cases we can administer all the necessary vaccines during your first consultation. However, some vaccines require one or two booster shots, and a single person can receive only 4 vaccines per visit. The number of consultations you may need will therefore depend on your destination, the length of your trip, your state of health and the vaccines you’ve received already.

Cancelling an immunization appointment

Are there circumstances when I should cancel my appointment for a vaccine? What if I’m ill at the time – should I still get vaccinated?

If you’re running a fever, it’s preferable to postpone your vaccination appointment. In any other situation (including a period when you’re taking antibiotics), vaccines can be administered at the scheduled time.

Required vaccines versus recommended vaccines

What’s the difference between a required vaccine, a recommended vaccine, a booster shot and a basic vaccine?

A vaccine is “required” when the country you plan to visit is likely to demand that you show proof of immunization. For example, you can’t clear customs and immigration in certain African countries without showing a Certificate of Vaccination against yellow fever. Without this document, you may be refused entry to the country, required to pay a large amount of money or – worse yet – be vaccinated on the spot and held in a waiting area for several days.

Recommended vaccines are ones we advise you to receive according to the standards of Health Canada and the Institut national de santé publique du Québec in order to protect yourself adequately against serious diseases you may be exposed to while travelling abroad.

A booster shot is a second dose of the same vaccine administered after a given period of time.

Basic immunization includes all vaccines that are recommended for citizens under the Quebec Immunization Protocol. Our experts will provide you with a booster shot for these vaccines (tetanus, measles, polio, etc.) before you travel.

Booster shots

As an adult, should I get a booster shot for my basic immunization before I travel to a foreign country?

At any age, it’s important to determine whether you need a booster for your basic immunization. A travel health expert is your best possible guide.

At your consultation before you leave, be sure to have your immunization booklet so that we’re able to determine your needs.

Planning for travel vaccines

I’m going on a trip abroad and I’d like to receive all the appropriate vaccines. When should I get vaccinated?

It’s never too soon to think about getting vaccinated. Ideally, you should allow 6 to 8 weeks before your departure date. Some vaccines require several booster shots, so you will have to visit the clinic more than once. However, it’s still better to get your vaccines the day before you leave than not get them at all. Remember, we provide walk-in services…no appointment required!

Personalized immunization program

Last year, an acquaintance of mine took the same trip as I’m taking and did not receive the same vaccines. Why?

Every case is unique. The details of your own health history and need for prevention aren’t necessarily the same as those of your friends and family. When you visit the Clinic, various factors are taken into consideration in order to set up an immunization schedule that’s adapted to your personal situation.

Side effects from vaccines

Is it common to feel side effects after receiving a vaccine? How long does it take for them to go away? Can I return to work immediately after vaccination?

The most frequently observed side effects after receiving a vaccine are soreness, a sensation of heat, swelling or redness at the spot where the vaccine was injected. You can therefore return to work as soon as your visit is over. Some people will experience a slight fever for a day or two. Normally, all symptoms disappear within 24 to 48 hours. However, for certain types of vaccines, the side effects only begin to appear a few days after vaccination.

At your immunization session, the travel health specialist will be able to answer all your questions and inform you about possible side effects.

Vaccinations for children

How old does my baby have to be to receive vaccines for travellers such as typhoid or yellow fever?

Some vaccines can be administered at birth. Others have to be given later on.

Depending on your situation, some vaccines can be administered earlier than at the recommended age. The travel health specialist will consider the length of your trip, your child’s age and the risk factors involved

An accelerated vaccination program should be arranged before any lengthy trip abroad:

Immunization during pregnancy

I’m pregnant. Can I still receive vaccines?

Some vaccines can’t be administered during pregnancy. Most of these are known as “live” vaccines (including yellow fever, chickenpox and the measles/ mumps / rubella trio). Other vaccines can be administered, depending on your situation and probable risks.

Prepurchased vaccines

Can I bring vaccines I’ve already purchased at the drugstore and have them administered by a nurse at the Clinic?

Unfortunately not. The reason is that most vaccines have to be kept at an exact, constant temperature. To control the quality of the vaccines we administer, we have to use our own stock, which is stored under the best possible conditions.

Immunization for a luxury holiday

I’m planning a holiday abroad, but I intend to reserve a 4- or 5-star hotel. Do I still have to get immunized?

For most holiday destinations it’s necessary to have a booster for tetanus and polio, as well as a hepatitis A and B vaccine, regardless of the hotel you plan to stay at.

Unfortunately, we regularly see patients who stayed at 4- or 5-star hotels and still came home with diseases that could have been prevented by vaccination.

Hepatitis B vaccine

I’m faithful to my partner and I don’t do drugs. Is there any reason why I should get a hepatitis B vaccination?

Whatever your life situation, it’s still recommended that you be immunized against hepatitis B. Suppose that the next time you travel abroad you’re the victim of an accident or you become ill. There’s no way you can be sure you’ll be treated under sanitary conditions.

Hepatitis B is transmitted by contact with body fluids. Blood, needles, as well as pedicure and manicure instruments can all carry the virus. A tattooing or piercing session, or unprotected sexual relations can also cause you to contract this extremely virulent disease. And unlike HIV, which can’t live long outside the body, the hepatitis B virus can remain alive for several days.

Recommended booster vaccine dates for hepatitis A and B

I’ve missed the recommended date for receiving booster vaccines for my hepatitis A and/or B immunization. Do I have to start the process all over? Should I still receive my booster vaccines? Will I be less effectively protected?

You can’t get a booster shot earlier than required, but there’s no problem if you’re late. We don’t start from square one in this case. We simply continue the immunization schedule, and the effectiveness of the vaccines won’t be affected in any way.

Dosage for hepatitis A and B vaccines

Am I protected if I’ve received just a single dose of a hepatitis A and/or B vaccine? If I am, how long will the protection last? What happens if this single dose is all I get?

A single dose of hepatitis A vaccine will protect you for about 1 year. However, receiving a booster vaccine 6 to 12 months later is a very good idea, since it will protect you for 20 years! The hepatitis A vaccine will prevent illness in 95% to 100% of all cases.

With hepatitis B, you have to be a bit more thorough. The first two doses will protect you 70% to 80% of the time, while a third dose will guarantee up to a 95% protection.

Hepatitis C vaccine

Is there a vaccine for hepatitis C (HCV)?

Unfortunately, there’s no vaccine licensed in Canada that can protect you against hepatitis C. And once you’ve contracted this virus, you’ll carry it for the rest of your life. Given these facts, it’s even more crucial to adopt consistently safe practices in your daily lifestyle.

HCV is transmitted particularly by blood and to a lesser extent by body fluids. Always be careful to protect yourself during sexual relations. Avoid sharing objects that might be contaminated by blood. Before you have any tattoo or piercing done, or undergo acupuncture, make sure the materials being used have been properly sterilized.

Malaria prevention

Is there a vaccine for malaria? Do I require protection against this disease? If I do, when should I begin treatment? What about protection for babies?

No vaccine against malaria exists at present but certain preventive drugs (such as anti-malaria prophylaxis) are available. Some of these treatments must be started a week or two before your departure, while for others the first dose isn’t taken until just before your trip. The choice of a preferable medication will depend on your health history, your destination and the length of your trip. Babies, on the other hand, must absolutely be protected against this potentially fatal disease. An travel health specialist will be able to advise you on the best way to treat your family.

Malaria and preventive treatment side effects

I’ve heard that the side effects of anti-malaria treatments are worse than the disease itself. Is this true?

Don’t forget that malaria is a potentially fatal disease. Depending on your health condition, your destination, and the length of your trip, there are various drugs you can use. It’s important to consult a travel health expert before your departure. He or she will be able to advise you and help you choose the medication that is likely to have the least side effects in your case. A few side effects are certainly better than putting your life in danger.

Vaccines and your place of birth

I was born abroad. Am I immune to the diseases that are most frequent in my place of birth?

Just because you were born in the region you plan to visit doesn’t mean you’re immunized against yellow fever, meningitis, tetanus, polio or other diseases. Like any other traveller, your vaccination needs have to be determined by a travel health expert. Remember to bring your immunization booklet, even if your previous vaccines were administered in a foreign country.

Dr Jean Vincelette

“With all the expertise of a teaching hospital centre… our team is there when you need it.”
Dr. Jean Vincelette, Scientific Director, Clinique Santé-voyage
Microbiologist, Infectologist and Professor,
Faculté de médecine, Université de Montréal


All profits from the Clinique Santé-voyage go to support the Fondation du Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM). So when you visit us, you’re not only protecting your health, but also contributing to the well-being of our hospital centre’s patients.