- Why do I need shots to travel?
Getting immunized with travel vaccines is a good investment in your health for several reasons:
- Some countries will require proof of vaccination against diseases like Yellow Fever and Meningitis before they will permit entry.
- In many countries diseases such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid Fever are endemic (always present) and can present a major health threat.
- Many diseases are spread through contaminated food and water, and since a traveler must consume from local supply it is wise to be protected.
- Several travel vaccines will also protect against diseases found here in the U.S. (e.g. Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B).
- As an added benefit, many vaccines offer protection for 10 years to a lifetime, which means safe and worry-free travel for years to come.
Capitol Travel Medicine recommends vaccines based on the Centers for Disease Control protocols and outbreak notifications. We carry all vaccines and are a Certified Yellow Fever vaccination center.
Yellow fever is the only vaccine that is required by some countries for entry. There is one exception – Saudi Arabia requires proof of Meningitis vaccination for all travelers arriving for Hajj or Umrah. All other vaccines are recommended to travelers depending on the country to be visited, length of stay, and travel itinerary.
Ideally, travel vaccines should be given at least two to four weeks before an individual travels. This delay allows the immune system enough time to produce protective antibodies against the disease. Some vaccines are given in a series and should be started four to five weeks before travel.
Depending on your destination, you may need a prescription for anti-malaria pills. Sometimes travelers can also benefit from medications that prevent high altitude and sea sickness, or that can treat gastro-intestinal problems.
Many health insurance companies consider international travel an elective activity and therefore do not cover travel vaccines. However, we encourage you to submit the itemized receipt you will receive at your office visit to your insurance company along with their claim form.
Side-effects to most vaccines are minimal, consisting of a low-grade headache or fever, mild body aches and fatigue, lasting 24-48 hours. This occurs in less than 25% of people receiving vaccinations, and can be easily treated by taking over-the-counter medications (Ibuprofen, Tylenol).