Traveling overseas to a foreign land is a dream to many. The chance to experience first hand a hike through an Amazon rain forest or the discovery of a mysterious Buddhist temple in Tibet or to gaze upon herds of zebras sprinting across a Kenyan plain are the building blocks for travel tales that will enthrall your children. So your wish is finally granted and you’ve booked your travel arrangements; hotel reservations are in place, tours are booked, flights confirmed. Check. Have you made an appointment with your doctor to discuss what vaccines you should get before you leave? As soon as you book travel for a foreign country, you should immediately visit the website for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to see what vaccines or medical precautions you should take prior to your journey. The CDC divides vaccines into 3 general groups:
Routine: vaccinations that you should maintain throughout your life, tetanus for example.
Recommended; depending the destination, and time of year, the CDC recommends certain vaccines to prevent you from getting a disease and in turn bringing it back to the US as an unwanted souvenir.
Required: At this time, the yellow fever vaccine is only required for travel to sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America. If you’re traveling to Saudi Arabia during Hajj, you are required to get the meningococcal vaccine.
Additionally, if you have diseases like diabetes or HIV where your immune system is weakened, there are extra precautions that you should take. The same would apply for women who are pregnant or for children. Ideally, you should visit your doctor 4-6 weeks in advance, but it’s never too late and shouldn’t be put off prior to your departure. Contracting a disease overseas such as malaria or hepatitis isn’t worth the risk financially or to your health in the long run, especially if it could have been avoided by a routine vaccination. To get more information about the destination that you are visiting, visit http://www.cdc.gov/travel/vaccinat.htm. Simply click on the link for the region of the world that you are visiting.