It is always a good idea to keep on top of recommended vaccinations, but it is especially important if you are planning to travel. Diseases that are nonexistent in the United States are still commonplace in many countries. This is true not only for developing and tropical countries, but also certain countries in affluent places like Europe. You need to plan ahead, as some vaccines take four to six weeks before they start protecting you. Well before you are ready to leave, go to a travel clinic or travel medicine specialist and ask what vaccines might be necessary as a precaution where you are going. Here are some of the vaccines you should consider getting before you travel.
Routine vaccines are those you should have on a regular basis whether you are planning to travel or not. The government Center for Disease Control and Prevention website has checklists of routine vaccines for infants, small children, preteens, teens and adults. Some of these are one-time-only shots, while others are a series of shots, or require periodic boosters. Go over the checklist carefully and be sure you and your family are completely covered. Measles is an example of a disease that is uncommon in the States, but has recently been brought in by unvaccinated travelers from Switzerland, France, Spain, Britain and other European countries.
Some vaccines are recommended if you are traveling to specific countries or specific parts of the world. These recommendations might depend on whether you are sticking to the cities or venturing into rural areas, the time of the year, your general health and your age. To determine whether you need these vaccinations, go to the alphabetized destination page on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Traveler’s Health section and look up the specific countries to which you are going. For example, for travelers going to Mexico, the site recommends, besides routine vaccinations, vaccinations for Hepatitis A and typhoid for all travelers, and for travelers going to certain areas and engaging in certain activities possible vaccinations for Hepatitis B, Malaria and Rabies.
Required vaccines are those you must have by law when entering or leaving certain areas. Currently there are two types of required vaccinations for travelers. Vaccine against yellow fever is required if you travel to or from certain parts of South America or Africa. Meningococcal vaccination is required for travelers to Saudi Arabia during the period of hajj. In addition, before you leave, you should check current traveler’s advisories, which give updated warnings for outbreaks of disease. For example, in May 2014, enhanced precautions warnings were issued for the Arabian Peninsula due to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome or MERS, certain African countries and Iraq due to polio, and Liberia and Guinea due to Ebola.
Women who are breastfeeding or pregnant should be particularly cautious and should check with their doctors before traveling. You should also be especially cautious about vaccinations if you will be staying for a long time in a particular location, living with local people, hiking or backpacking in the wilderness, or staying in rural areas, on a farm or anywhere else in close proximity to animals.
Traveling is a fun and fulfilling experience. Getting the proper vaccinations before you go enables you to enjoy yourself without fear of contracting local maladies.
This article was written by John Davis, a travel expert who hopes to help you travel better. He writes this on behalf of Houston Vaccines, a trusted travel clinic in Houston. Check out their website today and see how they can help you!