Traveling overseas? Get vaccinated!

In the dreary days of winter many people choose to travel overseas, especially to sunnier and warmer locations, such as Southeast Asia, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

If you’re planning such a trip, take a moment to learn more about what health risks you might face in a particular country and if any vaccinations are recommended before you go. Some vaccines take several weeks to be most effective, so plan ahead.

Related story from Live Science: Many Americans don’t get recommended vaccines before travel

The most useful vaccine for everyone, I think, for is the Hepatitis A vaccine. Most infants receive the HVA vaccine as part of routine childhood vaccinations, but lots of adults have never had it.

HVA is a liver infection that is typically spread by infected food. Do you really know if your food handler has washed his or her hands?? HVA outbreaks can happen anywhere, even in your own neighborhood.

The HVA vaccine should be covered in full under the Preventive Health Benefits of ACA-compliant health care plans.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has excellent and up-to-date travelers’ health information, including any current public health advisories. You can search by destination to see what diseases are most common, and which vaccines are recommended.

Some of the more common mosquito-borne illnesses don’t have a vaccine, such as malaria, chickungunya, and the most recently reported outbreak of the zika virus.

Related news story from The Atlantic: What to know about zika virus

The CDC provides information about how to protect yourself from these types of diseases, as well.

The zika virus is especially dangerous to pregnant women. Again, be as informed as possible when traveling!

When you have a list of the vaccinations you want or need, you can call your primary care doctor’s office, but it’s unlikely he or she will have these less common vaccines in stock (although they will probably have the Hepatitis A vaccine).

Call your local pharmacy. Pharmacies are increasingly offering all kinds of immunizations and will bill your insurance company for you.

Or call your local public health office, or local medical center. Many large hospitals offer a travel clinic as part of their services. However, you might be billed for an office visit in addition to the vaccinations. Ask about cost before you schedule the appointment.

If you are heading for sunnier and warmer climes, lucky you and Bon Voyage! Stay safe.

Sláinte,

Frugal Nurse

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