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Pharmacy U presenter Pavithra Ravi: When your patients begin to travel abroad

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Pavithra Ravi will be presenting at Pharmacy U Vancouver on November 27.


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, with these new situations we are seeing a new form of travel. The distance/ exotic traveller 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 acquainted with 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 different 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, as 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 affidavit of sorts to be filled out, and they'll ask for patients' vaccination status documentation.

Questions can be complex or unclear as to how a patient/traveller should answer them.

Requiring quarantining

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? The thought of travel can be enticing, but there is a lot for our patients to consider.

As among the most accessible healthcare providers, we have the opportunity to help our patients navigate the brave new world of travel. Travel can be hectic at 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 southern destinations, but not aware of what other vaccinations they may need when going to a place more exotic.

Here are few medications you may want to discuss with your patients:

Consider double checking if routine vaccinations are up to date for your patients.

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, OTC 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. It is important to remind patients that it is not only travel that has changed but also how many countries operate in our COVID world. You may not be able to access needed health products or care as readily as previously. Patients should be prepared for all possibilities.

Remember to ask your patients who are travelling: “How are you preparing for your travel?”



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