The ability to travel is a marvel of the modern world. Thanks to technology, transportation facilities and the global infrastructure of businesses and services all working in tandem, the average person now has easy and inexpensive access to even the far-flung corners of the world. Modern travel is cheap, safe and fast, and millions of people every year take advantage of the thriving tourism industry to visit a wide variety of newer destinations.

But there are some very important factors to be considered before heading for a trip abroad. One such factor is travelers vaccinations; especially booster shots that are designed to protect western travelers from infectious diseases still prevalent in most of the developing countries. These vaccinations can be absolutely crucial to travelers, and there are a number of things one should know about them when considering spending any amount of time in a foreign country.

1. Some Countries Will Require Proof
Many developing countries take their visitors’ vaccinations very seriously, as they often do not have a very strong medical infrastructure with which to treat those who fall ill while on a vacation. This is why travelers in parts of Africa, South America and Asia are often required to provide a proof that they’ve been vaccinated for certain diseases, like yellow fever or typhoid. This proof can be obtained from one’s doctor or the clinic in which the vaccination was performed, and should be carried securely along with one’s passport and other identification information.

 2. There is No “One Vaccination”
As unpleasant as most people find vaccinations, there is unfortunately no one injection that can be administered to protect travelers from all diseases. Each strain of a virus or disease must be individually injected, and can sometimes leave one feeling pretty under the weather. Fortunately though, the amounts and types of vaccinations one gets are largely up to the person and how protected they wish to be. If however, the country one would be visiting does not require certain vaccination, it is not necessary (even though it is smart) to get every possible vaccination for every known diseases in that area of the world.

 3. You May Need to Shop Around
One can receive vaccinations at a number of places. Usually, general practitioners and family doctors will have some basic vaccination equipment on hand, as will some free clinics and walk-in clinics. Make sure your vaccinations are administered by a medical professional and contain the right strains for the said destination. This is why it’s important to discuss your travel plans in detail with the person administering the vaccinations. Most will be familiar with what types of inoculations are appropriate for each area of the world.

 4. It’s Not Just Where You’re Going, But Also Where You’ve Been
It’s important to consider every potential destination when getting vaccinated for global travel. Some countries will not accept non-vaccinated persons who have visited certain other areas, which may force travelers to drastically (and expensively) alter their trips or arrange for flights to get back home. For instance; some countries like Japan, will perform non-invasive tests on travelers before they are allowed out of the passenger unloading zone, scanning them for fever and bacteria.

 5. There’s More Than Malaria
The developing world still suffers from many diseases that have been virtually extinct in the Western world for generations. While many know that stomach ailments and malaria are common, few travelers consider getting vaccinated for diseases like typhus and polio.

 To give you an example; some common foreign diseases that respond to vaccination are:

  • Tetanus
  • Diphtheria
  • Polio
  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Typhoid
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Rabies

For the most part, traveling can be a very enjoyable experience, but it’s important to consider vaccinations in order to prevent the contraction of a number of nasty – even life-threatening – illnesses. While proper precautions, like frequent hand washing and drinking bottled water, are always advised, nothing can quite provide the peace of mind that comes from the tried-and-true vaccination method.

For travel vaccine information, visit Careworks.

Author:  Michelle Holincheck, FNP