Immunizations to Get That Might Surprise You
Whether you are an accomplished world-traveler or are setting out on your first voyage, you probably know that travel vaccines are required for certain parts of the world. Sure, you have heard of immunizations for Typhoid and Yellow Fever, and you may have even taken malarial pills on more than one occasion. But there are several other immunizations that you may not have heard much about. These lesser-known vaccines can help you avoid some debilitating diseases in some of the world’s most beautiful places.
From the beautiful Tinago Falls in the Philippines to rural areas of Papua New Guinea, Japanese Encephalitis is a risk factor for travelers who will be outside frequently or staying for extended periods of time. JE is a year-round risk for tropical and subtropical areas and a summer-to-fall risk for the mild climates of northern Asia. Symptoms of this disease usually take 5-15 days to develop, and include fever, vomiting, swelling in the brain, coma, and even death. The good news – there is a vaccine! It’s best to see your doctor at least 6 weeks prior to travel as the JE vaccine is given in two doses that are spaced out over a month. The last dose should be given at least 10 days prior to departure.
If you are traveling in sub-Saharan Africa during the dry season or making a pilgrimage to Mecca during the Hajj, then you are required to get a meningococcal vaccine. Meningococcal disease is caused by bacteria that spreads via close contact with an infected person. Common symptoms can include sudden fever, headache, a stiff neck, vomiting, confusion, tiredness, chills, severe aches and pains, fast breathing, and a dark purple rash. Meningococcal disease is very serious and can cause death in as little as a few hours. Fortunately, the meningococcal vaccine offers protection from the disease. Even if you have received a meningococcal vaccine before, you may need a booster dose. It takes 7-10 days for your body to develop protection, so plan accordingly.
All children born and raised in the United States have already received 4 doses of the polio vaccine by the time they reach age 6. Though this crippling and potentially fatal disease has been eliminated from most of the world, eight countries reported cases of polio in 2015: Afghanistan, Equatorial Guinea, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Madagascar, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Ukraine. If one of these locations is on your bucket list, then you should get a one-time booster dose to provide full protection.
Unfortunately, rabies is found worldwide (excluding Antarctica). This deadly disease is spread through licks, bites, or scratches from infected animals such as bats, foxes, dogs, and raccoons. Many countries have a similar risk factor for contracting rabies as the United States; however, there are areas of greater risk that include much of Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. If your vacation activities involve contact with animals or you plan on spending a lot of time outside, you should consider a rabies vaccine. This vaccine is given in a 3-shot series spaced out over the course of one month.
Why spend your vacation worrying when you can contact the experts at Travel Vaccines and Wellness Solutions for up-to-date immunization information. We will ensure that you are fully covered so you can get back to enjoying your fun in the sun.
When Should I Get Immunized? Important Dates for Your Next Trip
International travel can be an amazing experience. You have the opportunity to immerse yourself in new cultures and meet lots of new and exciting people. However, it is important to note that there is more to travel safety then packing insect repellent and sunscreen. Many diseases are prevalent in other countries that may not be common in your area, so you may require additional vaccines on top of your basic immunizations to ensure full protection. Here are several important dates you should keep in mind before setting off on your world tour.
6-12 months prior to your trip
While many travel vaccines come in single shot doses, others may need more than one dose to reach full potency. It’s a good idea to start gathering information about the shots you will need in the area of the world you are visiting at least 6 months prior to departure.
Hepatitis A and B are both common travel vaccines that require multiple doses. Hepatitis A is a two-dose series that needs to be taken 6 months apart. Hepatitis B, on the other hand, is a three-dose vaccine with the first two doses taken 30 days apart and a booster taken 6 months later.
8 weeks prior
If you are planning on traveling to Asia, a Japanese Encephalitis vaccine is a must. Japanese Encephalitis is a disease spread through mosquito bites that can lead to swelling around the brain, coma, and even death. The immunization comes in two doses spread out over the course of a month. The last dose should be given 10-30 days prior to travel for full immunity.
Now may also be a good time to get your Typhoid vaccine. As a single dose shot that lasts for 3 years, you can get it earlier than other vaccines.
4-6 weeks prior
The sweet spot for travel vaccinations is 4-6-weeks prior to departure. Getting your vaccines around this time will not only ensure full immunity before your travels, but it will also give you an opportunity to seek familiar medical attention if you experience any bad reactions.
Ask your doctor if need boosters for your meningococcal or polio vaccines, and you may want to consider a rabies shot if you will be in contact with animals such as cats, dogs, bats, or other carnivores during your travels. The rabies vaccine is taken in 3 doses spaced at least a week apart.
Tick-Borne Encephalitis is another vaccine that is taken in two does spaced at least 4 weeks apart.
10 days prior
Travelers going to certain parts of South America and Africa are at risk for Yellow Fever, a serious illness that can lead to bleeding, shock, and organ failure. This vaccine should be administered at least 10 days prior to your trip. After receiving the vaccine, you will even receive a signed certificate that you will need to take with you on your trip.
One week prior
According to the Center for Disease Control, malaria is common in Africa, Central and South America, parts of the Caribbean, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the South Pacific. While there are no vaccines currently available, you will need to start taking prescription malarial medication at least one week prior to departure and continue taking it during your trip and even for a few weeks after you return home.
If you have any questions about which vaccines you may need for your upcoming trip, the knowledgeable team at Travel Vaccines and Wellness Solutions would be happy to assist you!