As you’re planning your next international getaway, you’re probably making a packing list with all the essentials: your passport, sunglasses, comfortable walking shoes, electrical outlet adaptors, and other personal belongings you’ll need.
Packing is just one step of the preparation process though- have you checked to see if you’ll need any vaccines or medical tests before you jet off?
While many diseases have been eradicated in North America thanks to research and advanced science, other parts of the world have not been able to contain and prevent the spread of common diseases. Shari Larsen, Travel Clinic Consultant at Pullman Regional Hospital, says that “destinations are recommending and requiring that visitors be vaccinated from certain diseases, not only to protect the visitor but to protect the population of the destination you are going to.” You want to come back from vacation with memories and souvenirs, not sickness!
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has an online database that can help you determine which vaccines (if any) you’ll need to get, as well as timelines for how far in advance you’ll need to book and receive them before you head to the airport, train station, or harbor.
As a general rule of thumb, travelers should plan to contact their closest vaccine clinic 4-6 weeks before departure to ensure that they can get an appointment scheduled and have time to receive the proper doses of vaccines necessary, as some are a series of injections.
Larsen urges people to schedule an appointment early, as “most vaccines are not even working in the body for 10-14 days after you receive them.” To avoid starting your trip off with a quarantine, it’s essential to get your required vaccinations done in enough time before you depart. Your local travel clinic, such as the one at Pullman Regional Hospital, can help determine a schedule for you.
The vaccines you need to have before traveling will depend on a few different factors including:
- Where you’re headed: Traveling to developing countries and rural areas may increase your likelihood of coming into contact with more diseases. Some countries require proof of vaccination for certain diseases, while other vaccinations are recommended before you visit.
- Your general health: If you’re ill, have a weakened immune system, are pregnant, or have other underlying health conditions, you may need additional vaccinations or have a heightened risk for certain diseases and infections that can be contracted via travel to other countries.
- Your vaccination history: You’ll want to ensure you’re up-to-date on all routine vaccinations. While some diseases are rare in the United States, they are more common in other countries, which increases your risk of contracting them if you are not vaccinated.
Chances are, you’ve received routine vaccinations at some point- these include Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Polio, varicella (chicken pox), Meningococcal Meningitis, among others. If you are not up to date on your regular vaccines, you may be required to get them before your trip.
Common travel vaccines include Yellow Fever, Typhoid, and Immune Globulin, as well as the COVID-19 vaccine or COVID-19 negative test. It’s important to check with the country/countries you plan to visit to understand the health requirements they have in place and plan your vaccines and tests accordingly.
Something else to have on your radar: any new or worsening illness post-travel should be reported to your doctor, including fever. Make sure to let your doctor know you have recently been out of the country, so they can assess your symptoms and run any necessary tests.
If you have an upcoming trip, give the Pullman Regional Hospital Travel Clinic a call at (509) 336-7354 to find out more information about vaccinations and testing and to schedule your appointment(s) prior to hitting the road. The Pullman Regional Hospital Travel Clinic is currently conducting travel vaccinations and testing- including COVID-19 tests; the tests take 48-72 hours in the lab and are significantly less costly than a rapid test at an airport or other travel center.