If you’re planning to travel to any developing countries, it’s a really good idea to visit a travel doctor before you go. Travel doctors can hook you up with the right vaccinations, medications, and disease-specific knowledge to help you avoid contracting a serious illness while you’re away.
So many vaccinations, so little time.
Common travel doctor vaccinations include Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid, Diphtheria, Japanese Encephalitis (Asia only), and Yellow Fever (Africa, Central & South America only). These are the main ones you’ll likely receive at a travel doctor, although it is possible that you will also need vaccinations for Tuberculosis, Meningitis, or Cholera depending on the countries you plan to visit. If you are not up-to-date with your Tetanus boosters, you will need to get a shot for this as well. Malaria is also common in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. To prevent this disease, you must take a daily Malaria medication starting a few days before entering at-risk areas and ending 2 weeks after leaving at-risk areas. Your travel doctor can give you a prescription for this.
Mind those frothy-mouthed, rascally, flea-bitten rabid mongrels.
Rabies is also common worldwide and your travel doctor may recommend that you get a pre-exposure rabies vaccination. However, this shot does not actually immunize you from rabies. In the event that you are bitten by a strange animal, you still need to visit the hospital and receive treatment. The beauty of the pre-exposure vaccination is that it lessens the time that will spend at the hospital (3 days with the pre-exposure vaccine versus 4 weeks without it). Rabies is kind of a big deal because once the virus infects your brain, there is a 100% chance of dying (kind of reminds you of zombies, doesn’t it?). However, if you remain watchful of stray cats and dogs, and don’t do anything silly like trying to feed monkeys, then your chance of being bit by an animal is very slim.
I believe that most of the vaccinations listed above are a one-shot deal, although Hepatitis B requires 3 shots over 3 weeks and the rabies pre-exposure vaccination requires 3 shots over 4 weeks. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to head to your travel doctor with at least a month of time available before your departure date.
Do you typically get travel doctor vaccinations before your trip?
Ever since a close friend of mine contracted Dengue Fever, I’ve become more cautious about my health while traveling (technically there is no vaccination for Dengue Fever, but many other diseases can be easily prevented through vaccination). Now I always see a travel doctor before embarking on a serious new trip. What about you? Leave a comment and tell me your thoughts on travel doctors.