How Vaccines Promote Healthy Travel

There are a number of things anyone should be aware of to promote healthy travel, especially if venturing overseas. On top of keeping a hefty supply of vitamins on-hand, and ensuring you have enough prescription medication to last you if you have an existing condition, immunizations and vaccines are crucial in keeping you safe and healthy during your travels.

Why You Should Vaccinate

Why bother vaccinating when preparing to travel? The same reason you would vaccinate at home: to prevent getting sick. The difference being, some of the nasty bugs, parasites or viruses you can pick up in foreign countries can potentially do a lot more damage to you than this year’s strand of the flu back home. There are many vaccinations that were common fifty years ago in the United States, that often aren’t bothered with anymore because cases of it are so rare. But just because your country, or even your state, doesn’t have a problem with such illnesses, doesn’t mean other parts of the world are so lucky.

If You’re Immunodeficient or Pregnant

Live vaccines should never be used in an immunodeficient person, and only “inactivated” vaccines should be used in pregnant women. If you plan on traveling and are either of these, talk it over with your doctor. Certain exceptions can be made for your travel plans, and a card might be issued to you stating your medical condition as to why you were unable to be vaccinated.

What Kinds of Vaccines You May Need

  • Yellow Fever is the only vaccination required for travel by the International Health Regulations of the World Health Organization due to its severity. Yellow Fever is transmitted by mosquitoes, and thus is a concern in hotter climates. Any other vaccine is likely to be highly recommended, but not mandatory.
  • Rabies vaccines are recommended both within and without the U.S., primarily for travelers who plan on spending a lot of time in the great outdoors and thus have exposure to animals who might have rabies.
  • Hepatitis B and Hepatitis A vaccines are a good idea for a wide variety of locations, everywhere from Africa, Asia, Alaska and Russia to many various parts of Europe.
  • Malaria is an illness with no known vaccine, but Chemoprophylaxis is a round of drugs that can be prescribed as a preventative measure.  

These are only a few of the recommended vaccines, as they’ll vary greatly depending on your location of travel.

Tips for Vaccines and Immunizations

Get it done early. Don’t wait a week or a few days prior to your trip. Many vaccinations require time to get into your body, sometimes up to several weeks. Six to eight weeks before your trip, plan to go to your doctor, and verify and receive any vaccines needed for the country you’re planning to visit.

Contact your doctor before your appointment so he knows what you’re coming in for. Not all doctors may have access to every type of vaccine you’ll need, and may need to order it or make other arrangements for you.

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