VACCINES: BECAUSE THE WORLD IS A DANGEROUS PLACE... POSSIBLY.
After doing some research online and talking with a doctor that travels frequently I have made a list of vaccinations I am going to get before my trip begins. Some of the vaccinations listed are optional, but I am going to let you choose which ones you need. Most people have already been vaccinated for a number of common deceases such as: polio, measles, mumps, rubella and hepatitis B so I will not really talk about them. Follow the steps below to find out what you may need.
1. A few months before departure research the area(s) you will be traveling to for heightened risk of certain deceases.
2. Make an appointment to speak with a doctor about the area you will be traveling to. He/She may have suggestions that you may have overlooked. Some vaccinations can even be done that day.
3. Make additional appointments for vaccinations that can not be carried out the same day.
GO EARLY: Some vaccinations may require more than one shot, some being a few months apart.
If you are going to be traveling to Africa or South America the yellow fever vaccination is a smart choice to get. Some countries even require you to have proof of this vaccination before entering. This is a simple 1 & done doctors appointment.
In most of the developed world you will not have to worry about this one. The only reason I chose to get it is because will be traveling to many ‘non-developed’ regions. This vaccine require 5-6 months between the two required injections. Although, it is highly recommended to get both shots before you go, it is not required. If you only get the first shot and do not have time to wait for the second don’t worry, you will still have partial immunity.
Traveling to Asia or the west Pacific region? Get the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine. According to the CDC the risk of getting JE is low among travelers, but it is also the leading cause of vaccine preventable encephalitis in the region. This is also a two-dose vaccination with the two shots being given 1 month apart.
Another vaccine to get if you are backpacking through places that might be considered non or under developed. Typhoid can only live in humans. Take the precaution of getting vaccinated. Also, watch what you eat and drink in those regions. This may be the easiest vaccination I have seen. For immunization take a total of 4 pills, taking 1 every 2 days … DONE!
You might not think to much about rabies and for good reason, it is hard to get in developed areas. This only makes my list as a possible option. Due to the HIGH cost of getting the multi-shot vaccination and the relatively small chance of ever getting it I would forgo this one. Unless, of course, you are going to be taking frequent adventures out into the wild. Since rabies is transferred by an infected animal bit many well traveled areas are safe. Generally if people are already living nearby there will not be a problem. I will not be getting vaccinated for rabies.
If you are from North America malaria is relatively unheard of, but in many parts of Asia, Africa, west Pacific and South America there is still the risk of getting this mosquito born illness. Unlike the others listed above there is no vaccinations for malaria, only pills that you can take when traveling to an affected area. There are many different prescriptions you can get with different ways of taking them. Some require daily use, others require being taken once a week, and others are every other day. The link below will help you decide which one might be right to talk to your doctor about. Also, most antimalarials are cheap and over the counter in foreign countries. You may be able to get a small prescription in your home country to take before you go and then just buy more when you arrive.
Again, these are not vaccines, but they are a good idea to take along or buy when you travel. Many places have strange foods that your body may not be used to processing. Probiotics up the amount of good bacteria in your digestive system to help you avoid travel illnesses related to food.
Once you have had your vaccinations they typically are valid for 10 years. Also make sure to get a INTERNATIONAL CERTIFICATE OF VACCINATION OR PROPHYLAXIS know as a yellow card. These are extremely important if you are backpacking without a set plan. If a country needs proof of your vaccinations this is the official document you NEED.
From the above I will be getting all but the rabies vaccine. I’m sure there are more vaccines for even more specific locations around the world, but these are the most common to get when traveling for any length of time.