Immunizations and Medication: Before You Travel

When traveling to other countries, you're often soon to encounter health-related issues that you will not usually face at home. In order to minimize your chances of becoming ill while traveling, it's important to find out beforehand if any particular immunizations and medicines may be required before traveling to the region you plan to visit. Here are a few tips to help you enjoy a safe and healthy trip:

Make an appointment with your doctor: Visit your local health center or doctor before you travel for the most current information and medication options. Ideally, you should schedule the first appointment for immunizations and travel health advice around five to six weeks before traveling. This is primarily because you generally need to wait for a couple of weeks after the last dose of your immunization program before you're completely protected.

Know which immunizations you need: Knowing which immunizations you require will not depend on your travel destination alone. Your physician will also take other factors into consideration including the duration of your stay, whether you plan to stay in rural areas or stick to the resorts, your vaccination history, any medicines you're taking and any allergies you may have. Regardless of your travel plans, it's important to make sure that you're up with routine immunizations such as polio, tetanus, influenza and childhood diseases including mumps, rubella and measles. In addition, overseas travelers may also need immunization against cholera, hepatitis A and B, rabies, meningococcal meningitis, typhoid, tuberculosis and yellow fever.

Special considerations to keep in mind: Remember that immunizations may not be suitable for everyone. For instance, if you're pregnant, it's better to avoid some immunizations. Children and babies too are a special case for whom you need to consult your doctor. Other special considerations to keep in mind include any reactions that you may have had in the past to immunizations, or if you're immunocompromised (ie you're HIV-positive or taking steroids) for some reason. In such a situation, it's advisable to avoid some immunizations. You can talk about this with your doctor before traveling.

Learn about the side effects: Like any other form of medication, immunizations may have unwanted side effects. These are usually unpleasant as opposed to being dangerous, although serious allergic reactions may occur occasionally. There's no medical evidence to suggest that they can affect your immune system by any means. Some of the most common side effects include soreness in the injection area, sometimes with swelling and redness, and possibly a mild fever or a feeling of not being well.

Many people traveling overseas are worried about the possibility of getting sick. With a bit of advanced planning and preventive measures, you can significantly improve your chances of having a wonderful travel experience.

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