Preparing for your summer vacation means stocking up on sunscreen, filling a suitcase with your favorite swim gear, and making sure that everyone in the family has absolutely everything they'll need for your trip. But if you're traveling out of the country, part of your vacation planning may mean a trip to the doctor.
Depending on where you're globe-trotting off to, you may need an update to your current vaccinations. While some types of vaccinations are required for traveling, all immunizations serve one primary purpose - keeping you healthy.
If your summer travels will take you outside the U.S., take a look at what you need to know about vaccinations.
Medical researchers have spent decades developing vaccines in order to keep people safe and healthy. Nearly 42,000 American lives are saved annually by vaccines, according to The Immunization Partnership.
Instead of infections such as the flu, whopping cough, measles, mumps, polio, and other serious diseases sweeping through communities, vaccines help to prevent these illnesses from striking in the first place. While certain vaccines are medically recommended for infants, children, and adults in the U.S., other countries often have somewhat different immunization needs.
In an effort to reduce the risk of illness when overseas, you may need additional vaccinations (on top of the ones you already have). Even though taking the time to get new vaccines may seem like just one more chore on your pre-vacation to-do list, it's one that can save your life.
Along with keeping you safe, vaccination prior to international travel keeps your friends, family, and anyone else who you come into contact with after your return home safe too. Picking up a disease overseas and bringing it back can quickly infect an unvaccinated population.
This question has no standard answer. Different countries have different immunization requirements for travelers.
Along with where you're traveling to, your current health status and the reason for your travels may mean getting different vaccinations. Pregnant women, young children, people with chronic conditions/diseases, or those who are immunocompromised may need to follow special vaccination guidelines.
Your doctor can provide you with a list of vaccinations that are recommended or required for your destination country. These could include Hepatitis A or B, typhoid fever, Yellow Fever, rabies or Japanese Encephalitis. You can also get an updated list of vaccinations by country from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) website.
Simply getting vaccinations may not be enough. Timing and documentation are both important parts of the international travel vaccination process. Don't wait until days or the week before your trip to get vaccinated. Some vaccines take several weeks to become effective, and others may require one or more booster shots to work properly.
That's why you should talk to a doctor, or other qualified medical professional, as soon as you book your trip. Unless you're taking a last-minute vacation, this should provide you with plenty of time to get your vaccinations. Ideally, you would schedule vaccination appointments a minimum of four to six weeks prior to leaving for your destination.
You may also need to provide proof of vaccination while traveling. Make sure to get all the necessary paperwork before leaving your vaccination appointment. If you aren't sure what you'll need, your doctor should be able to help. The CDC's website can also provide you with travel updates and the required immunization information that will make your trip prep (and the trip itself) run smoothly.
Keep in mind, even though vaccines reduce the risk of contracting a disease, you still need to take proper safety and hygiene precautions. Avoid areas where there are known outbreaks, observe safe hand-washing habits, and use insect repellents/insect-repellent clothing in areas with a higher risk of contracting an illness that's transmitted through insect bites or stings.
Do you need pre-vacation vaccinations? Contact Access Urgent Medical Care for more information.