Travel Vaccines Explained

All you need to know about travel vaccinations for your trip

(RxWiki News) Traveling the world can be an eye-opening experience, but, if you aren’t prepared, it can be a dangerous one, too.

Vaccinations can easily be forgotten among all the excitement of travel, but they can also be sorely missed if you find yourself in a situation where you need them. Whether you’re globe-trotting in a few weeks or a few months, read on to learn which vaccinations you may need before heading to some popular vacation spots.

Why Are Vaccines Necessary?

We need certain vaccinations as babies and before heading to school. These help protect us from serious diseases, many of which are now rare in the US due to widespread vaccination. However, diseases like polio and measles can still be found in other parts of the world. When unvaccinated people travel to these destinations, there’s a risk they may bring diseases back home, which can lead to outbreaks. So aside from preventing an illness for yourself, getting properly vaccinated before traveling can also help prevent the spread of illness at home.

Regardless of where your destination is, be sure your routine vaccinations are up to date. These vaccines include the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine and polio vaccine. It’s also important to get your yearly flu shot.

It’s best to visit your doctor and pharmacist at least four to six weeks before traveling internationally to get any necessary vaccines and make sure your body has time to build up immunity.

Adventuring in Africa

Between planning your safari adventure and preparing for the long flight, travel vaccines can get lost in the shuffle. Which country you are planning to visit in Africa will determine which vaccines are recommended. Visiting certain countries will require more vaccines than others. Besides the routine vaccinations, travelers may need hepatitis A, polio and typhoid vaccines, as well as medication for malaria prevention. In addition, if you are heading to certain countries, yellow fever vaccination may be required.

Visiting Mexico

Before heading to Mexico, make sure your routine vaccinations are up to date. Most travelers will need hepatitis A and typhoid vaccines because there is a risk of these diseases in Mexico. Some travelers will need preventive care for hepatitis B, malaria and rabies.

Touring Asia

You need multiple vaccines before traveling to a number of Asian countries. On top of routine vaccinations, some countries require travelers to be vaccinated for hepatitis A and typhoid. For some travelers, vaccines for rabies and Japanese encephalitis may be required. You may also want to consider taking anti-malaria pills, depending on the countries you plan to visit.

Exploring Europe

Europe doesn’t require much more than routine vaccination. If you are visiting certain countries in Europe, however, you may be at risk for hepatitis A, so that vaccine may be necessary.

Sightseeing in South America

Vaccination requirements are slightly more complicated for South America. Routine vaccinations are required, as always, but you’ll also need a few more. That includes the hepatitis A and typhoid and yellow fever vaccines. If you’re planning to work as a volunteer, you should consider both the hepatitis B and rabies vaccines.

Hopping Through Australia

As a relatively similar country to the US, Australia doesn’t require much in the way of vaccinations for travelers. As with most intercontinental travel, however, your routine vaccinations need to be up to date. For some travelers, hepatitis A and B vaccination could be necessary, along with vaccination for Japanese encephalitis.

Regardless of your destination, visit your pharmacist and doctor several weeks before traveling internationally to make sure you get all of the recommended vaccinations for the area you're headed to.

Written By Anyssa Garza, PharmD, BCMAS