June 25, 2019
Traveling abroad can be fun and exciting as you experience new cultures and new lands, but with it comes responsibilities. One major one is to protect yourself and others from sometimes fatal diseases through vaccinations.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention breaks down vaccines for travel into three categories: routine, required and recommended.
Routine vaccines are those vaccines recommended for everyone in the United States. Required vaccines are mandatory vaccines dictated by the country you are visiting to ensure that there are no viruses or bacteria piggybacking their way in with you. The CDC also has a list of recommended vaccines for each country in order to reduce the risk of you falling ill during or after your travel abroad.
It is recommended if you are traveling to countries like Brazil, Cambodia, China and Costa Rica. Hepatitis A affects the liver causing jaundice, fatigue and stomach pain and nausea, and is most commonly spread through food and water that has been contaminated.
The polio vaccine protects against the polio virus that targets the brain and spinal cord, which can lead to paralysis or even death. It also spreads through a compromised food and water supply as well as through sneezing and coughing. If you are visiting Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria or Pakistan, the polio vaccine is recommended.
Incidences of rabies do occur in the United States, but they are rare. In countries like India, Indonesia, Russia, Mexico and Peru, however, it is more rampant in both wild animals and domesticated ones. So, when visiting these countries make sure you have been inoculated against rabies.
Typhoid fever is a bacterial illness that causes fever, abdominal pain and headaches. The vaccine is recommended for travelers visiting most countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Travelers usually contract this viral disease from a mosquito bite. In countries such as Ghana and Brazil, the yellow fever vaccine is often required for some travelers entering their countries. It is also recommended for many other countries in Africa, and Central and South America.
Japanese encephalitis is another disease spread by mosquito bites. Symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, confusion and loss of motor skills. Later, brain swelling may develop leading to a coma and sometimes death. The vaccine is on the recommended list for Asia and certain parts of Australia.
The cholera bacteria can sometimes be found in the food and water supply in certain countries. Symptoms of cholera include severe diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. Currently the CDC recommends the cholera vaccine for “adults traveling to areas with active cholera transmission."
Visit the CDC website for updates on certain outbreaks and any travel advisories. Right now there is no vaccine for the Zika virus so you need to be careful traveling to countries considered high risk.
No matter where you decided to travel for business or pleasure, your safest bet is to always be prepared. Make sure all your routine vaccinations are updated, and talk to your primary doctor about which recommended vaccines you should get depending on which countries you’ll be visiting and what activities you have planned while there.
For some vaccines you may need to go to a travel clinic. For full protection, schedule all vaccines at least a month before your trip.