Is there really a better place to soak up the sun than Fiji? As one of Australia’s closest island neighbours, you’d be crazy not to visit this secluded island paradise, at least once in your lifetime.
Fiji is made up of 333 tropical islands, of which only 100 are permanently inhabited. The two main islands of Fiji – Viti Levu and Vanua Levu – account for approximately 87% of Fiji’s population. Fijian’s highly value family and community, and it shows – if you speak with anyone who’s ever been to Fiji, they’ll tell you that the Fijian’s are among the happiest, most friendly people on earth.
Apart from the endlessly hospitable people, there’s no denying that part of what makes Fiji one of the most attractive tourist destinations is the never-ending string of white-sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. Hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to Fiji each year – an impressive 219,000 Australian tourists alone holidayed in Fiji in the period from June 2016-June 2017.
Fiji has a warm, tropical climate all year round – maximum temperatures rarely move out of the 26-31 degree range, which means it’s the hotspot destination for beach lovers. Although, it isn’t just about the beaches. Nature lovers, look no further than the island of Taveuni. Taveuni is the country’s third largest island, commonly referred to as the ‘Garden Island’ because of its lush-green jungles with an abundance of wildlife, volcanic peaks and secluded waterfalls.
There are activities and experiences for everyone, so if you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie (or just after something a little more adventurous), Fiji won’t disappoint. From shark-diving and white-water rafting, to a jet ski safari or the chance to dive amongst some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world, it really will be a place you’ll want to return to again and again.
In the same way you would prepare yourself for any trip, it’s important to consider the risks of disease and illness that can very quickly taint the experience of a dream tropical island holiday.
Speak with your healthcare professional about which vaccinations or other preventative measures you might need prior to your departure.
Before you go to Fiji
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that all travellers are up-to-date with their routine vaccinations including; measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, polio, influenza and pneumococcal disease. These vaccinations are given as part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP). For a full list please refer to the NIP schedule, available here In some cases, you may need a booster or re-vaccination against a disease to ensure you still have immunity.
Other diseases that are considered a risk in Fiji include hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid. Your doctor will be able to let you know which vaccinations are recommended for you, based on the time of year, destination/s, activities planned and the duration of your stay.
In March 2018, the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services issued a warning about an outbreak of meningococcal disease in Fiji. Vaccinations are available for meningococcal disease – speak to your GP.
All travellers should be up to date with their routine vaccinations before heading off to Fiji. These include vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, chicken pox, polio and influenza.
For a full list, refer to the National Immunisation Program – available here
There is an increased risk of contracting hepatitis A and typhoid in Fiji, both of which can be contracted through contaminated food or water.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver. People are exposed to the virus generally through food or drink contaminated with faeces (poo), however, close personal contact (e.g.
Depending on where you are staying and what activities you have planned, a vaccination against hepatitis B may be recommended for you by your doctor.
It is best to consult with your doctor or travel health clinic at least 4-6 weeks prior to your departure. They will be able to advise you about any vaccinations that you may need for your trip well before you leave, based on your specific travel plans.
Your doctor may conduct a general health check-up. This may be needed for your travel insurance if you have a pre-existing medical condition. If you are not up-to-date with your routine vaccinations, then your doctor may recommend that you get a booster or be vaccinated/revaccinated against a particular disease.
Some health insurance companies provide coverage for vaccinations. You will need to contact your health insurance provider to see what they cover.
When you see your doctor regarding your trip, Medicare may cover the total cost of your consultation fees (if it is a bulk billing practice), or otherwise a portion of the cost. However, if you need to be vaccinated, Medicare will not cover the cost of the vaccines themselves.
Zika virus is a risk in Fiji. The virus is spread through the bite of a particular type of infected mosquito, which bites during the day – particularly around dawn and dusk. Most people (around 80%) who get infected do not show any symptoms. For those who do, the illness is usually mild, lasting 4-7 days and can cause a fever, rash, headache, red eyes, muscle aches and joint pain.
There is no vaccine for the zika virus. Travellers should avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, by protecting yourself with insect repellent, wearing clothes that cover your arms and legs, and staying in accommodation that has fly nets or screened windows provided.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that pregnant women do not travel to Fiji, as the infection can cause serious birth defects to an unborn baby.
The standard of healthcare facilities in Fiji varies from place to place. So it is important you a prepared before heading off on your trip.
See your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before departure to discuss your travel health requirements.
- Register your trip with Smart Traveller
- Make sure you have enough of your regular prescription medicines;
- Ensure you’re up-to-date with your routine vaccinations
- Take out travel insurance - to cover you and your family for medical and other costs resulting from unexpected incidents and accidents
- Put together a travel kit with medication for pain, diarrhoeal medicine, oral rehydration salts, antiseptic lotion or ointment, adhesive bandages and other wound dressings, insect repellent, sunscreen, latex gloves, thermometer, motion sickness medicine, water purification tablets and compression stockings
- The tap water is Fiji is not necessarily safe to drink. Drink bottled or filtered water only and check the plastic seal on bottled water is intact. Avoid adding ice to your drinks, and check that salad and fruit have been washed with filtered water prior to consumption.
- Traveller's diarrhoea is common in Fiji.
- Important ways to prevent traveller’s diarrhoea include:
- ensure you wash your hands with soap and water regularly
- where possible, opt for fully cooked fresh food and only eat fruit that you peel yourself.
- Avoid mosquito bites, as zika virus is a risk in Fiji. There is no vaccination for the zika virus, but you can protect yourself with insect repellent, wearing clothes that cover your arms and legs, and staying in accommodation that has fly nets or screened windows provided.
- Use condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, human papillomavirus, herpes, syphilis, hepatitis B and HIV.
Sources & Citations
- Worldometers, Fiji Population (live). Available at: http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/fiji-population/ [accessed 21 May 2018].
- My Fiji. About Fiji. Available at: https://www.myfiji.com/about-fiji/ [accessed 21 May 2018].
- Australian Government, Austrade. Outbound Tourism Statistics. Available at: https://www.tra.gov.au/research/australians-travelling-overseas/outbound-tourism-statistics/outbound-tourism-statistics (accessed 21 May 2018).
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Information for Travelers to Fiji. Available at: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/fiji [accessed 21 May 2018].
- World Health Organisation. International Travel and Health. Available at: http://www.who.int/ith/vaccines/en/ (accessed 15 May 2018).
- Safe Travel. News Features, Fiji – Meningococcal Outbreak. Available at: https://www.safetravel.govt.nz/news/fiji-meningococcal-outbreak [accessed 21 May 2018].
- Finder, Travel Vaccinations – Can I claim travel vaccinations on my private health insurance? Available at: https://www.finder.com.au/travel-vaccinations [accessed 21 May 2018]
- NSW Government, Health. Zika virus alert. Available at: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/alerts/Pages/zika-virus-alert.aspx [accessed 21 May 2018].
- International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers. Country Health Advice – Fiji. Food & Water Safety: Overview. Available at: https://www.iamat.org/country/fiji/risk/food-water-safety-overview [accessed 21 May 2018].
SPANZ.SAPAS.18.04.0146 - Date of preparation May 2018Show All