What are Travel Vaccines? (And Why You Should Get Them)
Immunizations Ensure Travel Health
When you're heading across international borders, it's important to take precautions for good travel health. Here are the most common immunizations suggested for travel to foreign countries.
By Diana Rodriguez
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
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When you’re preparing for a trip to an international destination, you're careful to pack the right shoes and clothing for the change of weather, your video or digital camera to capture the moments, and a carefully chosen collection of guidebooks to plot your itinerary. You probably spent hours researching the best flights, hotels, places to see, foods to eat, and more.
There’s another pre-vacation step that’s essential for travel health, particularly when you’re going to certain foreign countries: learning about immunization requirements and getting needed travel shots. The last thing you want to do is to get sick on your trip or bring home a serious illness. Some countries may not even allow you to enter if you don't have required immunizations.
A relatively painless visit to your doctor well in advance of your trip can ensure good travel health.
The Facts About Immunizations
In the United States, Americans are protected through a schedule of routine vaccinations that limit their risk of serious illness or disease. But if you're planning to travel internationally, there are both additional recommended and required immunizations, depending on your exotic destination.
Your family physician may be able to administer all of your travel shots or suggest a health facility that can. It's important that you schedule your appointment well in advance of your trip to allow the vaccines to effectively protect you — about four to six weeks before you leave. Also, some are administered in a series of separate visits, so be sure to allow enough time to get the full course.
Determining Your Immunization Requirements
It's important to be sure that your routine immunizations, such as MMR (measles-mumps-rubella), polio, and DPT (diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus), are current and that you speak with your doctor about any immunizations recommended for the particular part of the world you'll be visiting. Children traveling internationally also need travel shots. Your child's pediatrician can make recommendations about the immunizations your child needs to be healthy abroad.
If you're headed to a popular travel destination like western Europe or a tropical island in the Caribbean, the (CDC) lists recommended vaccines; however, there are no required immunizations for entering these areas.
Actually, there are very few vaccines that arerequiredfor travel. One is the yellow fever vaccine, and it's only required if you're traveling to specific destinations within South America and sub-Saharan Africa. People going to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj, a religious journey, are required to get the meningococcal vaccine in order to enter the country. Other immunizations may berecommendedfor travel to these and other exotic parts of the world as a precaution. Some of the common immunizations suggested for certain international travel destinations are for rabies, typhoid fever, Japanese B encephalitis, hepatitis A and B, and meningococcal meningitis. While not a vaccination, medication to protect against malaria is also recommended for certain countries.
For more specifics, the has an extensive Travelers' Health section on its Web site that offers information on all immunization requirements and recommendations for travelers. The site is complete with a map you can click on to find out which travel shots you need or should consider for a journey to any given country. Once on the CDC site, you can also find more tips and suggestions for travel health to keep you safe, no matter how far from home you venture.
Video: Travel Health Vaccinations - Concentra
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