Document Type : Original Article
School of Medicine, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland
School of Postgraduate Studies, International Medical University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Institute for Research, Development and Innovation, International Medical University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Department of Community Medicine, School of Medicine, International Medical University, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Introduction: Last-minute travelers (LMTs) are a vulnerable group, because it may not be possible to adequately vaccinate them against exposure to infectious diseases. The purpose of this retrospective cross-sectional study was to describe the characteristics of LMTs attending a travel health clinic.
Methods: The following data was extracted from records of travelers attending the Tropical Medical Bureau (Galway, Ireland) over a 6-year period with less than 2 weeks remaining before their departure: gender, age, occupation, destination(s), purpose of travel, departure date, travel duration, travel group size, accommodation, past medical history, medications, and vaccination history.
Results: Of 7555 traveler records, 1296 (17.2%) were of LMTs, of whom 45 (3.5%) were recurrent LMTs. LMTs were equally likely to be male or female. The mean age of this cohort was 32.2 years. The most common travel destination was Asia, and holiday was the most frequent purpose of travel. The mean interval before departure was 7.54 ± 3.65 days, and the mean travel duration was 7.36 ± 2.3 weeks. The majority (n=454, 35.1%) of LMTs traveled in pairs. Approximately 2 in 5 (n=497, 38.4%) travelers reported a past medical history; over half (n=674, 52.0%) had previously received travel vaccinations. The majority (n=1202, 92.8%) of LMTs were unable to complete a scheduled course of pre-travel vaccines.
Conclusion: This study provides insight into the characteristics and travel patterns of LMTs. A large proportion of LMTs have pre-existing medical conditions. Further research should focus on the travel health risk-taking behavior of these individuals.