When would my family need travel vaccines?
Planning an international trip? Returning with fond memories, an understanding of a new culture and souvenirs for friends and family is expected. One thing that’s not? Illness or disease. If you’re making plans to travel abroad, make sure your to-do list includes a visit to your family physician for travel vaccines. When does my family need travel vaccines?
Travel vaccines are an essential part of your trip preparation. Vaccinations play a crucial role in protecting you and your family from contracting a serious illness or disease while traveling abroad. When traveling to another country, there is an increased likelihood that you may be exposed to illnesses or diseases that are uncommon in the United States. While the vaccine schedule in the United States can prevent prevalent illness or disease in the United States, it does not protect against every disease worldwide. This is why it’s so important to consult with your family physician before traveling; they can help you determine what, if any, additional vaccinations would be beneficial for your trip.
Some countries require specific vaccinations before allowing entry. Others may not require additional vaccines before travel, but your physician may recommend them anyway based upon the risk level of where you are traveling to. There are several factors to consider when determining the need for travel vaccines.
First, your destination should be considered. Some countries have higher incidences of certain diseases that may not be present or prevalent here. Commonly recommended travel vaccines, depending on destination, include malaria, yellow fever or hepatitis A or B. These diseases are not common in the United States, so routine vaccination against them is unnecessary. Some countries have high rates of these illnesses though, so vaccination is a must to protect your health.
Second, consider the duration of your trip. If you are going to be in and out of a high risk area within hours or even days, you have a smaller chance of contracting a serious disease or illness. If your plans involve an extended stay, you run a higher risk of exposure. Depending on how long your trip is, you may even require additional vaccines or boosters to maintain immunity.
Third, think about the activities you plan on participating in. Camping in wooded areas where disease-carrying insects are present presents a much different risk level than attending an indoor conference in a metropolitan city.
In general, travel vaccines should be administered 4-6 weeks prior to your trip in order to build up immunity. If you’re planning an international trip, be sure to include a visit to your doctor in your plans. They can help you obtain the appropriate vaccines, ensuring a healthy trip for you and your family.