Immunizations Before Traveling Abroad: Tips from MedFlight911 Air Ambulance
Before you hop on that plane for your trip abroad, make sure that you're up-to-date on all your immunizations. Skipping essential shots could ruin your vacation, and even mean an advanced air ambulance trip back home.
The exact immunizations you'll need will depend on your destination. You should check with both your doctor and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) well before you depart to determine which vaccinations you need, since you may need to get these shots several weeks before you leave. A few things to keep in mind:
- Some vaccinations may be required. For example, international health regulations mandate a yellow fever vaccination if you're traveling to certain parts of sub-Saharan Africa. If you're traveling to Saudi Arabia during the Hajj, the meningococcal (meningitis) vaccination is required.
- You should make sure that you are up-to-date on your routine vaccinations, including for the flu, measles, mumps and rubella, chickenpox, and tetanus. Some of these diseases (such as measles) are much more common in other countries than they are in the U.S., and if you are unvaccinated, you may get sick. In 2011, more than 26% of measles cases in this country were in people who had recently returned from trips abroad. Many other cases were in people who had exposure to people who'd recently been out of the country.
- If you'll be traveling with a child or infant, talk to your doctor about which vaccines are necessary and safe.
- If you are immune-compromised (for example, you have HIV/AIDS, cancer, autoimmune disease or certain other conditions), or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should talk to your doctor prior to travel. He or she can advise you on whether it is safe for you to travel and which vaccines you need.
What vaccines are you likely to need if you want to reduce the likelihood of falling ill (and possibly the need for long distance medical transport) while traveling abroad? The CDC maintains a comprehensive list of health information for those traveling to different countries. Here are a few examples (not an exhaustive list) of vaccines you may need if traveling to certain destinations.
- Mexico: Hepatitis A and, if traveling to rural areas or small cities, typhoid
- Japan: Japanese encephalitis, if you will be visiting rural farming areas
- China: Hepatitis A, typhoid, polio, and Japanese encephalitis vaccines may be recommended, depending on which parts of the country you'll be visiting
- The Caribbean: Hepatitis A, especially if you'll be visiting rural areas, smaller cities, or staying with friends and relatives
Your doctor can help you decide which specific vaccines you need before traveling. It may also be helpful to make an appointment with a doctor who is an expert in travel medicine, since he or she will have a better idea of how your specific travel plans will affect your medical needs. A skilled travel doctor, for example, will ask you detailed questions about your itinerary (such as whether you'll be backpacking or staying in luxury hotels, what time of year you'll be traveling, and the areas you'll be visiting) to determine which vaccines you need.
As always, at MedFlight911 air ambulance, we believe that prevention is the best medicine. To have the trip of a lifetime, it's smart to take a few precautionary steps now. Bon voyage!
To find out more about MedFlight911's advanced air ambulance services give us a call at 888-359-1911 or get a no-obligation long distance medical transport quote here.