The most pressing question travelers ask is “What shots do I really need?” Our Nurse Practitioners consider two categories when answering this question; required and recommended vaccines. Then, depending on destination, itinerary, and budget, we’ll help you make the best decisions to protect yourself.
Required for pilgrims traveling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj/Umrah. A serious bacterial infection affecting the lining of the brain, it is transmitted by exposure to respiratory secretions. The vaccine is routinely recommended for persons who live in close contact with others (dorms, military barracks), and individuals traveling to the “Meningitis belt” of sub-Saharan Africa from December to June.
Yellow Fever (REQUIRED)
Carried by mosquitoes, this viral infection can cause a deadly hemorrhagic fever. It occurs in Africa and South America. Proof of Yellow Fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain countries and for persons who have traveled through endemic countries.
Cholera is a diarrheal illness caused by a toxin producing bacteria. Approximately 10% of infected individuals will develop severe symptoms. It spreads through contaminated food and water, usually in areas with very poor sanitation.
Hepatitis A (RECOMMENDED)
This viral disease of the liver is a traveler’s number one health threat. It is a food and water borne disease that is transmitted through the fecal/oral route (usually passed by persons who use the bathroom and do not wash their hands). Hepatitis A occurs worldwide and we now routinely vaccinate children against Hepatitis A in the U.S.
Hepatitis B (RECOMMENDED)
An infection of the liver spread by contact with blood and other body fluids. It is recommended for health care workers, persons traveling to moderate or high risk countries, persons participating in adventure travel and those who may have unprotected sex or use I.V. drugs. If one is concerned about the quality of medical care in a destination country, the vaccine should be considered.
Protection against the flu. CDC recommends flu vaccine for all travelers as flu can circulate year round in warmer climates.
Japanese Encephalitis (RECOMMENDED)
This mosquito borne disease is a risk to persons traveling to agricultural areas in Asia. Although it is relatively uncommon, it is potentially fatal.
MMR (Measles/Mumps/Rubella) (RECOMMENDED)
This combo vaccine is recommended for persons born after 1956 who haven’t received two doses of MMR after their first birthday. Others are generally considered to be immune.
This food and water spread virus can produce paralysis. Although persons are routinely vaccinated as children, the protective benefit of the vaccine only lasts until about age 18. An adult Polio booster is recommended for those visiting endemic countries or those countries where Polio continues to be imported.
This disease affects the nervous system and is almost universally fatal once symptoms appear. The virus is transmitted through the scratches and bites of infected mammals (e.g. dogs, cats, monkeys, etc). Pre-exposure vaccination should be considered for persons working with animals, travelers to remote or rural areas and for extended stays in endemic countries.
TBE (Tick-Borne Encephalitis) (RECOMMENDED)
This virus is spread through the bite of infected ticks. It is NOT found in the USA, but is present in parts of Europe and Asia. Travelers who spend time outdoors in or around forested areas may need to consider vaccination.
TDAP (Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis) (RECOMMENDED)
This combo vaccine has been widely used since 2005 as the typical “Tetanus booster”. The three diseases it protects against are found around the world.
This vaccine combines Hepatitis A and B together.
Typhoid Fever (RECOMMENDED)
This is a bacterial infection spread through contaminated food and water. It is especially a concern in areas with sub-standard sanitation. This vaccine is recommended for many travelers, in particular for those with longer stays and travel to small cities, towns and rural areas off the usual tourist routes.
Also known as Chicken Pox, this vaccine is recommended for anyone who has not had the disease.