The Center for Disease Control and Prevention provides up-to-date information on alerts and common diseases in your destination. They also have detailed advice filtered by your health condition and trip purpose.
Do I Need To Be Vaccinated Before Traveling?
Vaccination is not necessary for every destination, but for some, it can be literally life-saving. A few countries will not allow you into the country unless you are vaccinated. Many destinations have diseases that are not common in the US or are experiencing a specific outbreak you want extra-protection from.
It is best to plan your pre-trip vaccination around a month in advance. Most vaccines require some time until your protection develops. You also might have a mild reaction to the vaccine itself. You also might need to search for the clinic that has a vaccine you need: for example, the yellow fever vaccine is not readily available at every clinic.
Some vaccines are a good idea, no matter where you travel. For example, measles is not as common in the US, but measles outbreaks still happen even in Europe and Japan. For example, this year, a rubella outbreak occurred in Japan, and it is currently recommended to get vaccinated with the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine before travel.
You may also need rare region-specific vaccines to protect you, especially if you travel to Asia or Africa destinations. You also want to obtain special medicines, such as Malaria medicine, if you are going to Africa.
What Should I Pack For My Health And Safety?
Not all medical items or medicines will be available in your country of destination. They might not be licensed, available, or of a similar quality abroad. So it is a good idea to prepare and take them with you to give you peace of mind.
What you definitely want to bring “from home”:
- Your prescribed medicines and the prescription itself (for the customs and if you need to buy more),
- Travelers’ diarrhea antibiotic (if you travel to South America, Asia except for Japan and South Korea, Russia, Africa),
- Medicines to prevent malaria (for Asia, Oceania, and Africa),
- Medical supplies or instruments if you require something specific (inhalators, injections, etc.),
- You might want to pack up an EpiPen in case you will have a reaction to novel food, plants, or marine creature sting (unless you are going to Europe - much cheaper to buy there!),
- Over-the-counter medicines (unless you travel to Europe): diarrhea medicine, antacid, antihistamine, decongestant, pain and fever medicine, supplies to disinfect and cover a small wound, tick tweezers, eye drops, nasal spray, antiseptic cream (triple antibiotic), antifungal ointment, bandages, oral rehydration pack,
- Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and antibacterial wipes (take some on the plane, too),
- Tablets for water purification,
- Insect repellent (DEET or picaridin) and sunscreen (with UVA and UVB protection, SPF 15 or higher),
- You want to make copies of all your relevant documents and carry your insurance provider contacts. For some destinations, you will also need proof of vaccination (such as yellow fever).
Stay safe, and enjoy your trip uninterrupted!
Why do I need to get vaccinated so early ahead of the trip?
Most vaccines require some time until your protection develops and you also might have a mild reaction to the vaccine itself so it is best to have plenty of time to prepare yourself.
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