Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

Travelling to other countries may expose you to illnesses that can be rarely seen in the country that you live in. Therefore, when you travel to a new country or new continent altogether, it is very important that you are vaccinated properly. Travel vaccines can protect you from potential threats. In order to prevent the possibility of a lower quality of life, increased illnesses and epidemic by being exposed to the illnesses common in other countries, some countries have their own vaccination rules.

Though North America has eradicated all the common diseases that can be prevented by vaccines, you need to know about the vaccines that are a must for international travels.

How Does Vaccination Work?

Vaccine is exposing a small portion of germs responsible for a particular disease to the body. These germs or parts of the germs are either dead or in an inactive or severely weak condition and therefore, they cannot cause the disease in the body. However, since the body is exposed to a new type of germ, the body starts to make an antibody that will prevent the germs from attacking the body in future and also, recognises the type of germ for future attacks. This is how the vaccines can prevent a disease from attacking you.

What Vaccines Do You Need For International Travels?

What Vaccines Do You Need For International Travels?

Routine Vaccines:

From childhood, every person has to undergo several vaccination sessions, depending on the country that he or she is born in. These vaccination sessions are known as routine vaccinations. Some of these routine vaccines are given in the childhood and some are given when you are grown an adult. Some of the routine vaccines are –

  • Tetanus
  • Pertussis
  • Diphtheria
  • Polio
  • Mumps
  • Measles
  • Varicella
  • Rubella
  • Pneumococcus
  • Rotavirus
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Meningococcus.

The U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has listed these vaccines as the routine vaccines and every person has to make sure that they are up to date with the last vaccine of these diseases. These will guarantee that there is no need for any booster for them.

Recommended Vaccines for International Travel:

Along with the routine vaccines, the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention enlists some vaccines as recommended for those, who are travelling internationally. Depending on the country that one is travelling to, the traveller has to undergo some vaccination that will prevent him/her from acquiring that disease or bring it back to the native land.

Just as CDC in the United States of America, every country offers a list of the vaccines that they recommend for their citizens before they go to those countries. These recommended vaccines are –

Along with these, you may be also recommended to take preventive and precautionary measures for some mosquito borne diseases such as malaria and dengue, which are potentially fatal. Malaria vaccine has been recently established and found to be effective and ready to be given to human for protection from the disease. However, there are no vaccines that can prevent dengue. So, if you are travelling to a country in which there is a prevalence of dengue, your doctor may recommend some medicines and precautionary measures that will help you to avoid getting dengue or at least fight these diseases back. Since, both the disease are mosquito borne, a proper precautionary measure for prevent mosquito bite is necessary.

Yellow Fever Vaccination:

Apart from the routine and recommended vaccines, the CDC as well as the WHO or World Health Organization considers Yellow Fever vaccination required for those, who are travelling to some parts of South America or some parts of Africa, as well as for Mecca.

Factors to Keep in Mind for Vaccination

Though most people think that there is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ vaccine regulation, it is absolutely a myth. Even if two people are travelling to the same country at the same time, their requirements for travel vaccinations may be different from each other. There are quite a number of factors that determine which vaccine is needed for whom. These are –

  • Travel Destination: Some diseases are more prevalent in some parts of the world and some are less common in some countries.
  • Time of Travel or the Season in which a person will be Travelling: Depending on whether you are travelling in the rainy season or in the autumn, the chances of avoiding or getting a disease is varied.
  • Area or Region of Travel: Even within a country, some rural areas or urban areas are more prone to certain diseases. Therefore, your itinerary and where you are going to stay will determine your requirement.
  • Duration of Travel: The longer you stay in a country, the higher is your chance of getting a disease.
  • Overall Health Condition: Some people are more prone to diseases and some have a strong health, who can fight diseases. The medical history will show this.
  • Age: The more you are aged, the higher are your chances of getting a disease. Also, kids have a low immunity and can acquire a disease.
  • Immunization History: The types of vaccines that you have already taken and their validity, whether you need a booster dose will decide if you can avoid certain vaccines or not.

If you are travelling to Brazil for a rural backpack trip and someone else is travelling to stay in a luxury 5-star hotel, their requirements for international travel vaccines would be absolutely different. This is because of the chances of being exposed to certain diseases. Therefore, itinerary plays a very important role in this. Hence, you should go to a travel health specialist, who will be able to tell you about the vaccines that you would require to have.

When to Get the Vaccines?

Also, it is better to get the vaccines 6 to 8 weeks before the actual travel. This will make sure that you are completely immune to the disease. It takes some time for the body to develop the antibodies to fight the diseases. If you are exposed to the actual diseases before this time, even the vaccines would be of no use.

Is it Expensive?

When you are travelling abroad and need to undergo some travel vaccines, it is important that you keep the factor of the vaccination prices in mind. Every vaccination comes for a price, varying in every country. Whether you are vaccinated from the private clinics or the government authorised clinics, you need to consider the vaccination price in your travel budgeting.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: June 29, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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