Travel jabs can hurt wallet as well as arm

Doctors warn some GPs may be over servicing on travel vaccinations

A CHOICE report has found travellers seeking vaccinations are vulnerable to overservicing, with some medical experts saying GPs may be giving patients shots they don't need.

CHOICE found that GPs may prescribe unnecessary shots because they lack experience and information about the risk of certain diseases, hurry through consultations or, in some cases, are overservicing or even up-selling.

The average cost of a single travel vaccine can vary from $45 to $85, with the yellow fever vaccine costing $75 per shot.  Malaria pills cost between $1-$5 a day and the multi-shot regime for rabies and Japanese B encephalitis can amount to $300-$360.

Doctor's consultation fees and nurse's fees also need to be added to determine the total cost.

One CHOICE staffer going on an eight week trip to the Middle East and Africa   was told by her GP to find out which shots she needed and then come back and see him.

She ended up getting the injections done at a travel clinic that explained which were necessary and which were optional based on her travel itinerary. The informed advice cut a potential $1000 travel vaccination bill down to $500.

"It's wrong to give travellers shots they don’t need and it's unsafe if they walk away from the doctor's surgery without ones they do," says CHOICE spokesperson, Ingrid Just.

CHOICE advises using a specialist travel clinic when heading off the beaten track as this type of travel is the most vulnerable to overservicing.  Vaccinations may be slightly more expensive but travellers are less likely to receive and pay for shots they don’t need.

Alternatively, seeing a GP with travel expertise and phoning a variety of pharmacies and clinics to compare the cost of filling the necessary prescriptions can save money.

"With one in 11 Australians heading overseas each year, travel vaccinations are big business.  If you have ambitious travel plans ask around and find an experienced travel doctor - not only could it save you money but also your health," says Ingrid.

The DFAT website and state and territory health departments also offer up to date information on travel vaccinations.

To see the full CHOICE report on travel vaccinations, go to

Media Contact:

  • Ingrid Just, CHOICE, Spokesperson: 0430 172 669

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