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Contagious diseases

Contagious diseases
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How ill is too ill to fly?

In the wake of the pandemic many people feel nervous around air passengers with obvious symptoms of ill-health, including coughs and congestion. Airline staff are authorized to turn away passengers who they think have an infectious disease, so if you have some symptoms, you may be wondering if you are well enough to travel.

What are some common infectious diseases that affect travellers?

Infectious diseases include:

  • chickenpox
  • cholera
  • covid-19
  • flu
  • hepatitis A
  • measles
  • meningococcal meningitis
  • mumps
  • shingles
  • tuberculosis
  • yellow fever

You can get vaccinated against most of these diseases. Some of them are airborne, which makes it hard to avoid them, particularly in a confined space.

Can I fly with an infectious disease?

It’s a good idea to check in with your family doctor if you think you have an infectious illness. You may need treatment, or advice for self-care. A doctor can tell you when it is safe for you to fly, or provide a fit-to-fly letter. In the case of cholera, you should check with the public health authorities at your destination to ensure you’ll be allowed to enter.

Is it safe to fly if I am unwell?

Very high fever, vomiting and diarrhea, congestion and ear infections are all reasons for avoiding flying. These conditions can make your flight uncomfortable.

Out of consideration for your fellow passengers, particularly those with compromised immune systems, you may wish to avoid flying even with a mild illness. But all kinds of factors will play into your decision-making; and not all airlines accept ill-health as a reason for refund. If you’re in doubt about travelling, consult with a healthcare professional and then contact your airline for advice.

How can I protect myself against flu while travelling?

Normal hygiene measures like washing your hands frequently and avoiding touching your face will help to protect you from flu. Practising good coughing and sneezing etiquette will protect those around you.

Alberta residents can get a free flu vaccine and free covid shots at our travel health clinics in Calgary and from our travel health clinic in Edmonton. Just bring your Health Alberta card as proof of eligibility.

As well as covid vaccines, we can provide covid tests at most of our clinics if you need to provide proof of a negative covid test result, or just want to know your covid infection status for your own peace of mind.

Where can I get vaccinated against infectious diseases?

Some vaccines commonly recommended to travellers will protect you from diseases that are spread person-to-person. These include:

If these infections are a risk at your destination, your travel health nurse will recommend getting vaccinated when you come for your appointment at a travel clinic ahead of your trip abroad.

Is there a travel clinic near me?

Check our clinics list to see if there is a branch of Canadian Travel Clinics near you. Our state-of-the-art travel health centres are staffed by nurses and pharmacists who are experienced at caring for travellers. It’s usual for people going abroad on vacation or for business to make a travel health appointment six to eight weeks before they travel. This allows time to schedule multiple doses of vaccines.