Travel to foreign countries may expose you to vaccine-preventable diseases that are not common in the United States, such as measles and pertussis. In order to reduce your risk of contracting these diseases it is important for you to be up-to- date on all of your routine vaccines, however, you may also need to receive additional vaccines in order to protect against other diseases that are not native to the United States.
How do vaccines work?
Vaccinations help people build a natural immunity to common diseases by exposing the body to a small amount or weakened version of the disease. This exposure stimulates an immune reaction where the body begins to produce antibodies that can be used later to ramp up the immune system and fight the disease quickly, if exposed to the disease in the future.
Vaccines are broken into three categories: routine, recommended, and required. It is important to understand the differences between these three categories.
Routine vaccines – these are vaccines that everyone should receive, such as Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) or varicella vaccines.
Recommended vaccines – these are recommended for people who will be travelling to areas that have a high rate of diseases that are uncommon or have been eradicated in the United States. These vaccines not only help to protect you from contracting the disease but also prevent the spread of diseases from one country to another.
Required vaccines – there are some vaccines that are required in order to be allowed to travel to a specific country. Unlike recommended vaccines, you must have documented proof of these in order to enter some countries. A common example is the Yellow Fever vaccine which is required for travel to some African and South American countries.
The recommended and required vaccines will vary depending on where you will be travelling, so it is important to speak to your pharmacist before you travel in order to determine which vaccines you may need.
How to prepare for international travel:
The recommended and required vaccines will vary depending on where you will be travelling, so it is important that you plan ahead and follow these key steps:
- Know your vaccine history – you need to be sure you are up-to- date on all of your current vaccines.
- Research recommended and required vaccines – talk to your pharmacist or physician to learn which vaccines are needed for the place(s) you are travelling.
- Allow plenty of time – one of the biggest obstacles for travel related vaccines is timing. Some vaccines require documentation that may take several weeks to receive and other immunizations may take a couple of weeks to become fully effective, therefore, it is crucial to plan ahead. Speak with your pharmacist one-to- two months before your travel to ensure you have enough time to fully prepare for your trip.
If you have questions about travel vaccines or are planning an international trip, speak to your ReNue pharmacist about which vaccines may be important for you to receive.