Most people, at least in the U.S. and other Westernized countries, get their vaccinations on a standard schedule throughout their childhood and teen years. After that, however, most of us tend to forget about vaccinations. We figure we did all that already.
Not so fast there, traveler.
Did you know there is a recommended immunization schedule for adults? The medical community adapts vaccines all the time, but new diseases develop all the time too. Some diseases are eradicated in certain areas only to pop up as outbreaks in others.
The flu vaccine, for example, is regularly updated to account for the changes in flu strains. Recent outbreaks of measles among traveling children caused the CDC to recommend those traveling with infants to certain regions in Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Africa get their measles vaccine sooner than the standard childhood vaccination schedule recommends.
Here’s what travelers need to know about vaccines and travel – a checklist:
Pregnant travelers should determine whether their destination will expose them to certain health risks like the flu, tuberculosis, or malaria.
In addition, the CDC recommends that women defer pregnancy until at least 28 days after receiving a live vaccine. See the CDC recommendations specific to pregnant travelers, including the immunizations for pregnant travelers.
Travelers who are breastfeeding should be primarily concerned with the food and water they consume. See the CDC recommendations for travel and breastfeeding for more details.
Many health issues that apply to adults are more critical to infants and children, but the most commonly reported health issues among traveling children are:
As with adults, prevention is the best medicine. Ensure that your child has the appropriate vaccinations and be aware of the potential need for medical care while traveling.
See the CDC recommendations for international travel with infants and children and know how to find medical care on the road and in a hurry.
People with immune suppression due to a medical treatment, a condition, or a drug should address their pre-travel preparation with these things in mind:
Travelers with existing medical conditions should verify that they have enough medicines for their trip and watch out for counterfeit drugs if they do run short. See the CDC recommendations for immunocompromised travelers for complete details.
Ideally, you should review your vaccinations before you book your trip and schedule a doctor’s visit at least 4 to 6 weeks prior to your trip.
It pays to schedule a review of your vaccinations early because, in some cases, the vaccines are in short supply and may require a waiting period. In other cases, the vaccinations are delivered according to timed sequences that may stretch out for weeks.
Further, if you’ve lived in the U.S. all your life, you’ve probably never had the one vaccination required by International Health Regulations – the vaccine for yellow fever.
See the CDC destinations page and find the country (or countries) you plan to visit.
All travelers, of all ages and relative health, should follow these steps before heading out to foreign lands:
See our Travel Insurance 101 for more details on choosing your travel insurance coverage.
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.