Traveling Abroad: Vaccinations as an Adult
Find your passport? Check. Thumb through a travel guide to create an itinerary? Check. Visit your doctor for vaccinations? While some preparations for international travel are obvious, others, like vaccines, aren’t always at the front of your mind. This doesn’t make them any less important though, even if you thought vaccines were but a distant childhood memory or a yearly shot to schedule.
If you plan on traveling abroad, especially to a country with higher levels of disease or illness, protecting yourself with a preventative vaccine should be at the top of your pre-trip checklist. The CDC recommends certain vaccines based on your specific destination. While many popular travel spots don’t require any special vaccines, it may be wise to receive a vaccine or booster dose if the area is developing or experiencing a surge in disease, such as hepatitis or measles. Different countries have different rates of disease than the United States, so planning ahead for a potential exposure can save you from illness down the road. Other countries also have different vaccine requirements for their own citizens, so certain diseases may be more prevalent there. Also important to consider is the way you are traveling; you don’t have to worry about rabies or yellow fever on a cruise ship or in major tourist destinations, but if you are traveling through small towns or villages, you likely want to consider increasing your protection through vaccination.
In addition to travel recommendations, the CDC also advises adults to ensure they are up to date on all routine vaccines, including those received in childhood, boosters (like the shingles vaccine), and the yearly flu shot.
Finally, it’s important to plan ahead so that you have adequate time to build up immunity before your trip. Some vaccines should be administered at least a month before travel in order to be fully effective, while others may require multiple doses with certain timing requirements.
Planning to travel abroad? A good place to start is by talking to your doctor about your travel plans. They can recommend vaccines to keep you healthy and help you enjoy your trip to the fullest.