How Can I Protect My Health While Traveling?

Read Time: 3 minutes When traveling out of the country, it’s important to take necessary health precautions. A key part of this proactivity is ensuring that vaccinations are up-to-date. It also includes doing research on any vaccinations that are specific to travel. Here’s what to know about vaccinations before traveling abroad.

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Don’t skimp on routine protection

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has general vaccination recommendations that travelers should check before their trip. Some people may have a misconception that vaccinations are only for children. But vaccinations wear off over time. Adults should work with their healthcare provider to make sure their routine immunizations, such as for tetanus or the flu, are up-to-date. Routine vaccinations become even more important while traveling abroad, as some routine vaccines like measles are common diseases in other countries.

While vaccination is recommended for all age groups, some people will not be good candidates for vaccinations. For example, if someone has a compromised immune system or is currently ill, they will need to wait to receive vaccination when they are in good health.

Pay attention to changing travel vaccination recommendations

The CDC also lists travel-specific vaccination recommendations. Multiple factors can include what travel vaccinations are appropriate. Some of these can include the country of destination, the age, and health of the traveler, and the activities planned for the trip.

Some of the common travel vaccination recommendations not covered in routine vaccinations might include the yellow fever vaccine, vaccination for hepatitis A and B, typhoid fever, or rabies. Vaccination considerations may also change depending on the time of year. For example, a meningococcal vaccine might be necessary if traveling to Saudi Arabia during the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

Are you going on a mission trip or a business trip?

Travel vaccination requirements will also vary based on the type of trip. For example, the health precautions that a medical student on a mission trip needs to take will be different than the ones of a businessman staying in a Japan resort. Certain settings, such as attending crowded events or markets, can also increase the risk for the spread of disease.

The optimal window for vaccinations to take effect

To ensure full protection, travelers should start planning for their travel vaccinations at least two months in advance of a trip. Vaccinations typically take 4-6 weeks to take effect, so planning early ensures that vaccines will start working before the time of travel. It also ensures that there is adequate time for a series of shots if any of the required vaccinations require more than one dose.