Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Traveling Out of the Country?

If your approaching Spring Break plans include traveling out of the country, NOW is the time to check in with your doctor to see whether or not you need any special vaccines or preventative medications before your trip. Immunizations take at least a few weeks to "kick in" and protect you, so start thinking about these shots at least a month (or preferably, two months) in advance of your trip. Additionally, there are some medications, such as those for prevention of malaria, that you need to start taking a couple weeks before your trip in order to be effective.

A great resource for medical travel planning can be found through the Center for Disease Control (CDC) at Simply enter in your planned destinations, and a list of recommended vaccines as well as a plethora of extra information is readily available.

For example, let's take Mexico (think sunshine, beaches and...mosquitoes?) Of course, your routine vaccinations such as measles, tetanus and polio should be current. In addition, both Hepatitis A & B vaccines are recommended, as well as the typhoid vaccine- especially if you are visiting smaller or more rural areas. Rabies vaccine is only recommended for travelers who plan to be very involved with wild or stray animals, such as researchers, vets, or "high adventure" seekers. Besides the shots, travelers need to consider medications to prevent malaria, a serious blood-borne illness that is transmitted by mosquitoes. While not all regions of Mexico are at risk for malaria, people touring Chiapas, Oaxaca, Nayarit, and Sinoloa will need to discuss anti-malaria drugs with their doctors.

BOTTOM LINE: When your travel plans extend beyond our country's borders, check with your family doctor a couple months in ADVANCE of your trip to see if you need updated or additional immunizations or preventative medications.

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