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.

Summer, Travel and Medication – Part 1 – Vaccinations

It is advisable to check your vaccination status a few weeks before traveling. Depending on your destination you can then make a decision if some vaccinations need to be updated or started.
It is important to note here that vaccinations with live vaccinations con not be done in people with immune system disorders or people taking high doses of corticoids.

Basic vaccinations

* An update vaccination against diphtheria and tetanus is advisable if the previous inoculation dates back to more than 10 years.

* An update vaccination against polio is advisable for people traveling to regions where polio is present. A single shot suffices if a full vaccination has been performed in the past.

* Travelers born after 1960, who never contracted mumps, measles or rubella and were ever vaccinated against them are advised to vaccinate against these three.

* Vaccination against influenza is advisable for risk groups, since in the tropical regions infection infections can be seen all year long.

Recommended vaccinations

– Hepatitis A vaccination is advised in the following situations:

* Travel to high risk areas (Africa, South-America, Asia): vaccination for all non-immune travelers, regardless of the duration of the stay

* Travel to medium risk areas (Caribbean, South-Europe, Eastern Europe) only if it is foreseen that the travel will be done in bad hygienic conditions, for people who love seafood and raw fish (!) Or when traveling frequent or staying for a very long time.

The administration of the vaccine, even when it is given on the very last moment, in the case of an emergency travel, offers sufficient protection. The protection lasts 25 years minimum and some recent research even suggests that the protection is lifelong.

– Hepatitis B vaccination is advisable for all non-immune travelers to Asia, South-America or Africa. In case of an emergency departure, the vaccination can be started, with two injections 1 week separated and a third one 1 month after the first injection

– Typhoid vaccination is only advisable with adventure traveling in very bad hygienic conditions or while staying frequently in Northern or North-West Africa, India and Peru. Mind you protection is 60% a 70% at best and the vaccine must be administrated at least two weeks before leaving.

– Japanese encephalitis vaccination is only advisable if one stays longer than 4 weeks in rural areas in Asia in those months where the disease is present.

– Tick borne encephalitis vaccination (flavivirus) is advisable in some cases of travel in the natural areas of Central and Eastern Europe

– Rabies vaccination is not necessary for most travelers but can be advised when traveling to remote areas.

– Cholera vaccination is generally speaking no longer advisable

Some vaccinations are compulsory in some countries

Yellow fever vaccination is compulsory in only a few countries but is advisable when traveling to tropical regions in Africa and America.

Vaccination against meningococcal bacteria from type A, C, W and Y is compulsory for Mecca travelers or travelers in the sub-Saharan meningitis region during during the end of December and the end of June.

This was part 1 of a series of 6 articles about travel and medicine. The other parts being: Part 1 Vaccinations – Part 2 Travelers diarrhea – Part 3 Lyme's disease – Part 4 mountain sickness and heat stroke – Part 5 Malaria – Part 6 motion sickness and jet lag.

Steps To Find Your Travel Vaccination History

Before taking a trip out of the country, you may be surprised to find that the law requires (or medical professionals recommend) a travel vaccination or two. While most countries are free of such necessity, certain destinations are fraught with diseases illegally to pop up in the US Both you and the US government have a vested interest in keeping it that way. Of course, in some cases you may already have the immunizations you need. To know for sure, however, you'll need to rely on your vaccination history. If you keep your own good records, that will not be a problem. Unfortunately for some, this may require a bit of research.

Your Parents
Most people do not remember to take all of their records with them when they move out of their parents' house. Therefore, you should check with your parents first if you're looking for your own immunization records. If you traveled as a child, you may already have had the travel vaccination you need. Of course, you may still need to have the adult version of the shot again, but it is a good starting place in your search.

Your Doctor
For those who have lived in the same town their own lives, and only recently graduated from their lifelong pediatrician to a family doctor or or she recommended, finding medical records will be easy– simply contact your doctor and ask for them. You should be able to get your immunization history and know once and for all if you need the travel vaccination being recommended. If you moved frequently as a child, however, this may not be helpful. You can still try tracking down the hospital of your birth or the state government, however, to see if your records are available. Most states have ways you can procure duplicates of these records for your personal files.

Getting New Immunizations
Chances are good that, regardless of whether or not you can find your childhood immunization records, you will still need the recommended travel vaccination. Childhood vaccines cover such diseases as mumps, rubella, and measles, but will not protect you against yellow fever, meningitis, and some of the other diseases you are in danger of contracting when traveling to certain areas of the world. Make sure you get your vaccinations well in advance of your trip, as some need time to develop in your system before reaching full effectiveness.

Health and Vaccination Information for Travel to Cambodia

From the architectural wonders of the Angkor Wat temple complex to the white sand beaches of Sihanoukville, at the heart of Southeast Asia, Cambodia has become an increasingly popular tourist destination, its affordable travel deals making this exotic destination accessible to a wide range of travelers. But exposure to such diverse nature and geography involves some health risks as well, and travelers who are thinking about a trip to Cambodia should be sure to consider the proper vaccinations, antimalarial treatment, and other health precautions beforehand, to ensure that their trip is a safe and enjoyable one.

The Center for Disease Control recommends that travelers to Cambodia be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B and typhoid. Those who plan to spend a lot of time participating in outdoor activities, including hiking, cycling, or working with animals, should also obtain a rabies shot. And for travelers who plan to visit rural or farming areas, or in periods of increased disease prevalence, the vaccine against Japanese encephalitis is also recommended. Before any trip abroad, travelers should observe that their routine vaccinations against measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus and polio are current. This is particularly true with regard to the measles vaccine in Cambodia; while the measles is no longer an active disease in the United States, recent cases have been reported in Cambodia and across Southeast Asia, so have your physician check your custody records to determine whether you need a booster shot for measles or any of your other routine immunizations. Remember, most vaccines take four to six weeks to travel through the bloodstream and be fully effective, so plan ahead!

Malaria is present in most areas of Cambodia, excluding the temple complex at Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh, and Lake Tonle Sap, so if you plan to visit an area in which you could be exposed, you should check with your family doctor about an antimalarial drug regimen. It is important to share your specific travel itinerary with your provider, as certain strains of malaria in Cambodia may be resistant to some drugs. And, like the vaccinations, antimalarial drugs may need a few weeks to take effect, so be sure to book an appointment with travel clinic in advance.

The CDC recommends procuring enough antimalarial drugs to last your entire trip, as antimalarial drugs manufactured abroad are not measured by FDA standards and may contain contaminants, produce dangerous side-effects, or be alike ineffective. The CDC recommends avoiding foreign antimalarial drugs, particularly Halfan, unless you have been diagnosed with malaria and have no other treatment options. The same holds true for any other routine prescriptions you may need, as well as over-the-counter pain, anti-nausea, and allergy medication; quality and availability may vary, particularly in rural areas, so it's best to pack what you need for your own stay.

Other diseases present in Cambodia for which there are no available vaccines include dengue, filariasis and plague, all of which are transmitted by insect bite. The CDC suggests preventative measures like using insect repellent, mosquito netting, and wearing long-sleeveless clothing, to protect against infection. Some cases of avian flu have been reported in both birds and humans in Cambodia and around Southeast Asia, so the CDC recommends avoiding contact with the local bird population, including poultry farms and markets selling live birds. Waterborne illnesses such as schistosomiasis and leptospirosis are also found in Cambodia. Travelers can steer clear of these diseases by avoiding swimming in fresh water, and using iodine tablets to purify untreated drinking water.