Travel Vaccinations: All Your Questions Answered

Whether you are planning a vacation in the Caribbean or an African Safari, there is one thing you should pay attention to– a travel vaccination or immunization. Both the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated right before you travel.

What Are Travel Vaccinations?

Travel vaccination or immunization shots are given to protect you against new strains of bacteria and viruses. The vaccinations cause the body to make antibodies to respond to the specific pathogen. This means you won’t get sick when vaccinated because the bacteria or virus will be weakened.

Why Do You Need Vaccinations?

Certain viruses and bacteria are region-specific, and you may not have the required antibodies for protection. Yes, the immune system should protect you against pathogens; however, without the specific antibodies, you will be at risk of developing these infections. Vaccinations will protect you against common diseases like;

Traveler’s diarrhea
Traveler’s diarrhea is common, and it occurs as a result of drinking or eating contaminated food or water. This type of diarrhea is common in the Caribbean, developing countries in Africa and Asia. At times food handlers don’t wash their hands before handling the food, thus transmitting the infection to other people. This intestinal infection will cause sweating, abdominal pain, and dehydration and can last for three to seven days, but it’s rarely life-threatening.

Although getting a vaccination does not fully guarantee that you won’t get the infection, it will reduce the risk.

Yellow fever
Yellow fever is a region-specific condition, and it is common in tropical areas in Central and South America and in Africa. The yellow fever virus incubates three to six days in the body. In the initial stages, the fever may not present any symptoms, but expect to develop muscle pain, fever, headaches, and loss of appetite. The symptoms may clear up after three to four days.

Yellow fever is only prevented by its effective and affordable vaccine that is sufficient to sustain the immune system. You may not need a booster vaccine as the vaccine offers a life-long protected against the virus.

Typhoid fever
Typhoid fever is caused by Salmonella Typhi, and it presents weakness, fatigue, high fever, stomach pains, headaches, loss of appetite, and rash.

How Can You Know You Need Travel Vaccination?

As long as you are traveling to the tropical areas of Africa, Central, and South America, Asia, and the Caribbean, you will need to be vaccinated. These vaccinations are broken into three:

  • Routine vaccination is standard immunizations recommended for both children and adults in the United States. These vaccines include tetanus, pertussis, diphtheria, and measles because these diseases break out often and are common in different countries around the world.
  • Required vaccines like yellow fever are required by both the CDC and certain governments, especially if traveling to Africa and South America.
  • Recommended vaccines are recommended by CDC for general protection of your health even if they are not required by most countries you are visiting. For example, the Typhoid vaccine.

Which Travel Vaccines Will You Need?

You will need Hepatitis A &B, Meningococcal disease, rabies, and paratyphoid fever.

Where Can You Get Travel Vaccine?

Your family doctor or nurse can vaccinate. You can also get the travel vaccination at your county and city health departments.

How Long Will the Vaccines Last?

This will depend on the type of vaccine, and at times you may not need a vaccine boost. However, you should see your healthcare provider for recommendations and advice. At Alamo City Urgent Care, we are familiar with travel medicines, and we will provide you with advice on vaccine boosters based on your destination and your immunization history.

Can You Get Travel Vaccine Outside the United States?

The Center for Disease Control does not recommend it because most of the vaccines need to be given ahead of time for the full protection to be activated. Plus, vaccines provided in other countries may be different from those available in the United States.

Bottom Line

Before you travel, make sure you get the right vaccination. Visit the Traveler’s Health section at the CDC website to get all the information on the types of vaccines required for the different countries.