Immunizations for travel…
I have to admit that it’s been a long time since I’ve thought about immunizations for travel. Getting a flu shot would pretty much be the only thing I usually did each year. It doesn’t help that I’m a complete needle weenie when it comes to shots. No amount of deep breathing, looking the other way, or mental preparedness would be enough to make me ever get a tattoo. When you travel domestically, or to familiar European destinations like I have the last few years, it might seem like it’s not necessary to worry about immunizations.
With an upcoming trip to Southeast Asia, I could no longer bury my head in the sand. The best website to head to for health warnings and immunizations for a specific country is the Center for Disease Control (CDC). It’s pretty easy to find the button titled Health for Travelers and select the country you are planning to visit. The recommended immunizations will be listed for you.
After reviewing my list, I called my primary care physician to get what I needed. However, some immunizations are not carried by physicians. I needed a typhoid shot, but my doctor’s office doesn’t keep them on hand due to low demand and the shelf life of the vaccine. You might have better luck if you live in a really big city. Therefore, my only choices were the county health department or the Visiting Nurses Association (VNA). The Health Department will bill your insurance, but the VNA does not. Both places require an appointment. Since it was the middle of the winter, I decided it was worth the money to bypass the county health department and head to my local VNA. I didn’t want to go into the busy health department full of sick people during cold and flu season and possibly pick something up while I was there.
During my appointment, I was the only one in their office, and it took about 10 minutes. Did you know that there is a typhoid shot that lasts 2 years and oral medication that lasts 5 years? And this needle weenie went for the shot! The oral medication is over a course of days and can really upset your stomach, etc. With 3 boys at home, I was afraid I’d miss/skip a dose and not be covered for my trip. Other immunizations I got for the trip were tetnus, flu, and Hep A.
The nurse that administered my shots was really nice and gave me lots of great information that can be obtained from the CDC website. I really liked the Healthy Travel Packing list. It lists all of those over the counter medications that we take for granted in the United States that might be a little harder to obtain in a foreign country with a language barrier. I’d be nervous needing something simple if I couldn’t walk in a store and see the familiar brand packaging I’m used to. I’m talking about things like antacids, diarrhea medicine, eye drops, allergy medication, or simple aspirin. I travel without quite a bit of that in the Untied States to cut down on baggage, and because I know that I can pop in the closest drug store and get something I need pretty easily.
One of the most important things to remember is to make sure that most of your shots are administered 3-4 weeks before your planned travel. Your body needs some time to process the immunization and take effect. Some websites and immunizations say you only need about a week, so make sure you do your own homework. I’m hoping we all have happy, safe, and healthy travels this year!