Before leaving the country, you should talk to your doctor, and potentially to an infectious disease specialist, about what vaccinations you may need. Below are a few ideas of immunizations you might want to talk to your healthcare professional about.
Everyone should make sure their routine vaccinations are up to date before going on a vacation. Get your flu shot no matter what – airports, planes, train stations, and the like are notorious germ factories. Check with your doctor to ensure other routine vaccinations like a tetanus booster are up to date before leaving.
If there’s a chance you might find a new sexual partner on vacation, or you’re thinking of getting a tattoo overseas, get a Hepatitis B vaccine. The Hepatitis A vaccine, which is administered in two doses, will protect you against contaminated food and water in less developed countries. Both vaccines offer lifetime immunity, so you only need to get them once.
If your destination could have contaminated food or water, you probably need a typhoid vaccine. If you’re not a fan of needles, you’re in luck. The typhoid vaccine is available in pill form. You’ll need to keep the pills refrigerated and take one every other day for about a week.
The rabies vaccine can be quite expensive as it is administered in three doses, and it’s important to note that this preliminary vaccination course doesn’t actually prevent the disease. If you get the vaccine and are bitten by an animal, you still need to go to the hospital and get two more vaccination doses applied. It’s most important to get a rabies vaccine if you are traveling in very rural areas or working closely with animals on your trip.
Naturally, you need a yellow fever vaccine if you are visiting an area where the mosquito-borne illness is endemic, but did you know some countries without yellow fever still require the immunization? Many countries in Southeast Asia and South and Central America ask travelers to carry proof they have been vaccinated against yellow fever, if they are traveling from a yellow fever endemic country. Plan your itinerary carefully.
If you’re taking a traditional holiday in Asia, you probably don’t need to worry about Japanese Encephalitis. But if you plan on spending more than a month in the region, particularly in rural areas, this is one mosquito-borne illness that you may want to consider vaccinating against.