Health Services

IMMUNIZATION AND THE TRAVELER

EphNotes

Different countries, different risks

Immunization is one of the most important medical precautions one can take when traveling. Diseases and infections such as diphtheria, measles, and Haemophilus influenzae type b are rare in the United States because of routing immunization. However, they are more common in developing countries where routine immunization programs may not exist. In the past, travelers were required to have a certificate proving they had received certain immunizations. Today, immunization is less formal, even though travelers are no less at risk. Immunization requirements have been replaced by recommendations, making most travelers less likely to seek advice from their healthcare professional.

A vaccine checkup

Adults and children alike should have all their routine immunizations up to date before traveling abroad. For children, these immunizations may inclue: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus (DPT); measles, mumps and rubella; polio; Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib); and hepatitis B. For adults, they may include diphtheria and tetanus (DT); measles, mumps, and rubella; and polio. There are also specific vaccines that may be advisable for the country to which you are traveling, including vaccines for yellow fever, typhoid, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis, meningococcus, rabies, influenza, and pneumococcal pneumonia.

Start early

To make matters more complex, every vaccine has its own recommended number of doses, route of administration, injection site, scheduling, and compatibility with other vaccines. For this reason, you shouldn’t wait until the last minute to discuss whether vaccinations are recommended for your destination.. A visit to your travel clinic or physician 8 weeks before departure should be sufficient for any immunizations that may be recommended. It is important for you to maintain and bring your immunization records with you to each appointment.

Plan ahead for a safer trip!

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