Staying Healthy While Traveling: What Vaccinations Do You Need?
Luggage? Check. Boarding pass? Check. Travel vaccinations?
When you’re preparing to travel, a visit to the doctor likely isn’t on your to-do list. But depending on your destination, a check-in at a travel clinic might be important to having a great – and safe – trip.
If you’re traveling internationally, set aside some time to consider your health during the trip. It’s smart to research the country you’re visiting and find out if that region is known for any medical conditions. You can also register for the State Department STEP program, which will send up-to-date alerts about your destination. If you’re hopping on a flight for business, check to see if your employer offers any type of travel health services such as pre-travel counseling, medical care, or travel insurance in case something comes up during your time away from home. International travelers should also determine if they’ll need to be screened once they return home.
The table below includes information on some of the most common vaccinations and considerations. Keep in mind this table is not all-inclusive. Based on your personal medical history and itinerary, you may need additional or fewer immunizations or medications, so it’s best to consult with a travel medicine provider before taking off. Some vaccines need to be received weeks or months in advance to be most effective, so plan this part of your trip early.
|Continent||Vaccinations or Prophylaxis You Might Need||Need to Know|
|All||Hepatitis A and B, Rabies, Routine vaccinations||Hepatitis A can be contracted through contaminated food or water in every continent. Hepatitis B is transmitted through sexual contact or contaminated needles. All continents may have animals with rabies.|
|Africa||Measles, Yellow Fever, Malaria, Typhoid, Cholera, Meningitis||Typhoid is found in contaminated food or water, and a vaccine is strongly recommended if you’re visiting small cities or eating adventurously. Certain areas in Africa are at a higher risk of Malaria and Cholera. You may need to present proof of a yellow fever vaccination if you’re arriving from a country with a risk of yellow fever.|
|Asia||Typhoid, Japanese Encephalitis, Malaria||Typhoid is found in contaminated food or water and a vaccine is strongly recommended if you’re visiting small cities or eating adventurously. The Japanese Encephalitis vaccine is only needed in certain areas for trips more than a month.|
|Australia||Japanese Encephalitis||Depending on the time of year, you may need this vaccine if you are visiting remote areas for more than a month or if you will be spending time outdoors.|
|Europe||Routine vaccinations||Make sure you are up-to-date on all routine vaccines before your trip.|
|North America||Measles, Typhoid, Malaria||In certain areas, Typhoid is spread through contaminated food or water. Malaria is transmitted by mosquitos; a travel medicine provider can recommend prophylaxis for those traveling in high-risk areas.|
|South America||Measles, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Malaria||The Yellow Fever vaccine is recommended for travelers older than nine months traveling to certain provinces. You must present proof of a yellow fever vaccination if you’re arriving from a country with a risk of yellow fever.|
Domestic trips come with fewer travel health risks, with most travelers catching a cold or the flu from viruses or bacteria in the close quarters of an airplane. Anuruddh Misra, MD, a Premise provider board-certified in sports and internal medicine, suggests you keep the following tips in mind as you prepare for your next adventure:
1: Stick to the basics
It’s always important to get a good night’s sleep, especially before boarding your flight. Seven to nine hours per night is an ideal number for adults, according to Mayo Clinic. Washing your hands after touching common surfaces or using the restroom is even more important at airports to prevent spreading germs. Bronchitis, pneumonia, rashes, sores and ear infections are some of the most common illnesses you can pick up while traveling and spending time at airports.
2: Don’t light up
If you’re a smoker, Dr. Misra recommends you stay away from cigarettes several days before your trip. Smokers are at a higher risk of a lung collapsing when in a pressurized chamber, like an airplane, for a long period of time.
3: Keep it moving
Visiting Europe or catching some sun in the islands? If your flight breaks the six-hour mark, try your best to get some steps in every hour by walking up and down the aisle of your plane. Sitting for an extended period of time puts you at risk for potential deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or blood clots.
4: Pregnancy precautions
Traveling during pregnancy is safe for most women until 36 weeks, as long as mom and baby are healthy, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Pregnant women should check with their obstetrician to review any personal circumstances that might impact their ability to travel safely during pregnancy.
5: Limit risks
Use your common sense! When traveling, it’s tempting to take risks you’d never think of taking at home – from not wearing a helmet on a motorbike to swimming in dangerous waters. If you’re unsure about your risks based on your itinerary, talk to your healthcare provider before you depart.
Premise Health offers a variety of travel medicine services to our clients, including: pre-travel risk assessments, risk reduction planning, prescriptions and vaccinations, and post-travel triage. A travel medicine provider can help members determine what risks are present based on their itineraries and work with them on risk reduction strategies. Click Here to learn more.