About a month to a month and a half before your next trip out of the country, you should meet with your doctor to get a physical and recommendations on which vaccines you will need. The vaccines you require will depend on the part of the world you are traveling to. Some places, like Africa, will require more vaccines than a place like Europe. According to IMU Southwest, a company that states that the Immunization Clinic should be the first stop for any traveler, it’s important to guard against diseases that we as Americans may have no exposure to here.
Your Risk Level
The level of risk posed to you when traveling abroad for disease will depend on a few factors, according to the CDC: when you travel, what you’ll plan on doing while there, the state of your health and your vaccination history. By planning ahead, you can protect yourself against disease that is typical of developing countries, such as typhoid and yellow fever. Even though some diseases have been eradicated here in the U.S., such as polio, these still can run rampant in third word countries. Measles is one example of disease that hasn’t been seen in this country for many years; however, a recent outbreak in California shows us how real this threat still is globally. In fact, the CDC says an estimated 120,000 died around the world from measles in 2012 alone, with this viral illness remaining a top cause of death in kids in some developing countries. For children six months old or older, the CDC recommends getting an MMR vaccine prior to travel.
When you see your doctor, he or she will go over your medical history in detail, find out where you are planning to travel to, and what activities you’ll be engaging in. Then, you will be better able to know which vaccines are required. For instance, if you are planning a trip to South Africa, you will need vaccines for Hepatitis A and Typhoid, and possibly for Hepatitis B, yellow fever and rabies. Heading to Thailand means you’ll need a vaccine for Hepatitis A, Typhoid and Japanese Encephalitis. This last one will depend on exactly when and what region you’ll be traveling to. Going to Chile? Get Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccines. Because malaria runs rampant in many of these countries, it’s wise to get a prescription for anti-malarial medication so you don’t contract this flu-like illness. This is a medicine only, not a vaccine. According to IMU Southwest, the Immunization Clinic, a company that provides fast, affordable care, when landing at your destination, you’ll need to provide proof of your vaccination, so carry this information with you. You’ll need to show this proof even if the current threat of a particular disease is very low. Take Haiti for example. If you’re headed there from another country with a high threat of Yellow Fever, such as Ecuador, proof must be shown despite the fact that Haiti itself may not be overrun with this disease at that time. If you’re planning on visiting Saudi Arabia during the Hajj (a yearly pilgrimage to Mecca), you’ll need proof of a meningococcal vaccine.
Refrain from giving babies under the age of six months any kind of vaccine as mentioned above. It’s always best to wait until they are a little older before giving them the vaccine and traveling to another country. Pregnant women and those with weak immune systems also have to be careful about what vaccines they put in their bodies.
Being proactive in your stance on vaccinations before traveling can save your life and that of your family. The CDC has a travel destination list that outlines all the recommended vaccines for various countries around the world. Be prepared before you go by visiting your doctor and doing all the research you can.