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What’s All The Fuss About International Immunizations?

by Karen Kluge, R.N., B.S.N. - Executive Director, Passport Health, Boca Raton, Florida

Vacations are exciting and travelers often bring home photographs, memories and mementos. Hepatitis, malaria and typhoid are just a few of the un pleasantries you don't want to bring home as a reminder of your trip.

Trip planning can be hectic and people often take their good health for granted. Underdeveloped countries, often lush and tropical have many diseases hidden from the naked eye. Many countries require proof of vaccination as an entry requirement. However, entry requirements are meant to protect the citizens of that country and not the visitors. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and WHO (World Health Organization) make recommendations for Americans traveling abroad. Many diseases, which no longer are considered a threat in our country, still exist and pose a vital health risk in many countries. As more and more people travel to exotic destinations, their risk is increased.

Reducing the Risk

Most health and security risks can be decreased with appropriate counseling and vaccine protection. Travelers' Diarrhea is an illness that many travelers are aware of and yet few take along appropriate treatment. Education can diminish the risk and taking along a remedy can drastically shorten the duration and reduce the severity of the illness should it occur. Hepatitis A is present worldwide; there are occasional outbreaks in the United States associated with improper food handling and preparation. Importing produce from developing countries has also played a major role in outbreaks of Hepatitis A. There is a safe and highly effective vaccine. Additional safe and effective vaccines are available for common diseases like Typhoid and Tetanus/Diphtheria to mention just a few.

Many mosquito borne diseases are re-emerging due to limited resources needed to eradicate mosquito breeding grounds. Although vaccines are available for certain diseases such as Yellow Fever and Japanese Encephalitis, many like Malaria and Dengue Fever rely heavily on appropriate use of preventive measures. Health education is a very important component, as both Dengue Fever and Malaria can be fatal.

Plan Ahead

Remember, the only way to thoroughly enjoy your vacation is to be prepared. Vacations are often planned for months and the expense can be significant. No one wants a vacation ruined by illness. International travelers need to seek appropriate care from a travel medical specialist at least 6 weeks prior to travel. A few shots without appropriate counseling or supplies will not keep you free of disease. A thorough travel medical consultation should take approximately an hour.

Passport Health specializes in immunizations, travel medical information and hard to find travel supplies at very reasonable rates. Click Here to find the Passport Health location nearest you.