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.

Measles, Mumps and Rubella – Part 1

Pediatrician Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson informs parents that 90% of people who are unvaccinated and exposed to measles will get it. Get your family up to date on the MMR vaccine.

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Measles, Mumps and Rubella – Part 2

Pediatrician Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson highlights the importance of the MMR vaccines. After 2 doses of the MMR vaccine, over 99% of people will never get measles.

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Day Care Director Explains Why Your Child's Immunizations Need to Be Up to Date

Immunization is a regular part of most American children's doctor visits. These shots protect people against many serious illnesses and have been a standard of medical care for decades. However, some parents choose not to immunize their children. This causes serious issues for the children, the community and the day care center or school they attend.

Why Immunize?

Immunizations, or vaccinations, are shots that give immunity against certain illnesses. Most vaccines are made of inactive or dead samples of the bacteria or virus they prevent. Immunizations have led to the almost complete ending of some illnesses that were once considered lethal such as polio, smallpox, measles, and mumps. Children are immunized several times during their early years. Schools and day care centers need proof of immunization regularly. If every child were immunized the spread of some diseases could be ended.

Why Some Do not Immunize

Some parents choose not to vaccinate their children. This is based on their concerns for the vaccines' safety. Some vaccines use mercury and / or other toxic chemicals, while others give multiple vaccines in one shot. Both issues have been tenuously linked to autism, developmental delays, and epilepsy. Some cases of death have been documented. This usually happened when the child had an undetected medical condition that the vaccine worsened. Some studies have confirmed these parents' fears but doctors deny the link between shots and illness. Jehovah's Witnesses and some other groups abstain from vaccinations on religious grounds.

Which Shots Are Needed and When?

Before a child leaves the hospital after birth, they get the shot for Hepatitis B. Within 1-2 months, they should get a Hep B booster plus shots for DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), HiB (Hemophilic influenza B) polio, pneumococcus, and rotavirus. At 4 and 6 months, they get boosters of the same vaccines. Between 6-23 months they will get Hep B, Polio, HiB and pneumococcus boosters, plus varicella (chicken pox) several times. At 23 months, the Hep A vaccine is added, plus MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), DTP, polio and varicella between 4-6 years.

Impacts Non-Immunized Kids Have on Others

Many immunizations are not 100% effective. Children who have been immunized are actually at greater risk of catching an illness from an un-vaccinated child who has the disease. For example, a day care center with only two unvaccinated kids can see outbreaks of disease like pertussis in the double-digits in vaccinated children. Outbreaks of preventable diseases have increased in communities with large numbers of "exempters." In a 2006 outbreak of mumps in Iowa 219 people, most of whom had had their shots, got the illness from non-immunized children from the same day care.

Having your child vaccinated is the responsible thing to do for the child and the greater community. The links between health problems and immunizations are not proven. The majority of those who get their shots have no last ill effects. Day care managers and school administrators must require immunization from their students in order to avoid major outbreaks of preventable disease.