How Important are Travel Vaccinations
Travel can be very therapeutic for the mind and soul. Travelling to beautiful and exotic locales helps us relax and come into our own.However all these places if not all(some of them for sure) may be also complete with bacteria,viruses and infections for many diseases known and unknown.It is important to be protected from these diseases and bacteria when travelling abroad to make your travel memorable and safe.
The One important Question you may first ask is can we not protect ourselves in another land without getting vaccinated?
The answer to this is Question is “Yes” to a certain extent,if you are a stickler to hygiene and cleanliness.Drinking clean and pure water all the time,having well and correctly cooked food,fresh fruits and vegetables,cleaning and washing your hands before eating anything and using a tissue to sneeze or cough into and then most importantly disposing the tissue in a proper manner mitigate the risks of falling sick not only at home but also in an alien land.In a place with mosquitoes,bugs,insects of all kinds warrants the use of insect repellents and a bed net to sleep add to the preventive measures.
This risk may be low or there may be no risk at all,but please bear in mind that an infection of any kind,an illness due to an insect bite or drinking of unsafe water can destroy a well planned and perfectly executed itinerary.Not only that the recovery from such incidents may be prolonged and will have unending health consequences.
Hence it is very essential that you acquaint yourself of the health risks associated with your Destinations.Certain vaccines are costly and may affect your budget,but there is hope.There are clinics which administer vaccines at discounted rates.A good idea is also consult your family doctor and seek help.Having said that you do not always need to be vaccinated while travelling abroad.The vaccinations,if recommended will be different from one another for different Destinations.The factors that decide that a vaccination is required or not are many:
¥ The Country you are travelling to,[in some cases this may be only a part of that Country which needs you to be vaccinated].The risk of infection when travelling to a rural or an interior area and you staying with the locals or working with them in the interior of Africa is more than when you are staying at a plush hotel in an urban and developed city.
¥ The time period that you will be staying in the Destination Country.The chances of contracting Japanese Encephalitis is higher during and right after the rainy season in the temperate areas of Southeast Asia while Meningococcal Meningitis outbreaks in the African Meningitis Belt usually occur during the dry season.
¥ The length of the trip also impacts travel-related illness and this increases over time.For example, the chances of getting sick is more,on a six to eight week adventure trip to the Jungles of Central Africa, than when you are on a week’s holiday at a beach resort stay in the Dominican Republic.
¥ Certain vaccines and medications may take time to work and take effect.Some vaccines come in a series because you may need more than one shot to build up the immunity.Therefore if your travel does require Vaccines and medications more than once,plan and assess to get this done atleast six to eight weeks before your departure to build up immunity.If your travel is decided last minute[specially Business trips] or on short notice, check for accelerated vaccine schedules and if they are correct for you.Though you may not develop the immunity required in just one dose but it is always better to be safe than sorry.Weigh your options with a little research.Find out the pros and cons of visiting the place without a Vaccine.Sometimes all the vaccines (atleast the first dose) can be given simultaneously one after the other though it can be hard on you to take them one after the other
To begin with,always be protected and up to date with the routine vaccinations and immunizations prescribed by your Country’s Government and also provided free of charge as per the health programme chalked by the Government.Travel or no travel,these are mandatory and your defense for strengthening your immune system against diseases and protection at home and abroad against preventable diseases like Influenza,Tetanus-Diphtheria-Pertussis, Measles-Mumps-Rubella, Polio,Small Pox and Chicken Pox.These shots are administered in a series of doses in stipulated periods or yearly shots for protection
To add to the above bucket of vaccines,Hepatitis A and/or Hepatitis B should also be a part of the routine immunization schedule.Both Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B virus is present worldwide specially the latter [B] one being present in some populations in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East are carriers.These vaccines are in a series of doses.Please ensure to complete the entire series for them to take effect.These two vaccines are long term protectors [almost lifetime protection],recommended strongly to place the two vaccines in your to do list,especially if you will be travelling to the risk prone areas.
Many a times many of these vaccines do not agree with the medications you are already prescribed to or having been using for a long time.Then there are cases of many being allergic to a particular kind of vaccine.In such cases you need to consult your doctor to check for alternatives and preventive measures.
YELLOW FEVER VACCINATIONS
One Vaccine that is a sure must is the vaccination for Yellow Fever.A viral infection that occurs in Africa and South America,this is transmitted to humans by daytime biting Aedes Aegypti female mosquitoes.About ninety nine [99%] of people develop immunity within one month of vaccination and this appears to be lifelong.The vaccination requirement is compulsory to protect all travellers arriving in these Countries or transiting these Countries
Risk of Yellow Fever transmission exists in these countries:
AFRICA – Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Togo, Uganda.
AMERICAS – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela.
A Yellow Fever certificate is valid  days after vaccination.So this means a Vaccination taken  days before entering the risk Country gives you a valid Certificate. The Certificate is valid for ten years.
If your destination country requires you to have a Yellow Fever Vaccine, you need to show the Certificate of Vaccination. There is no exception to the rule unless you have a contraindication or a precaution against the vaccine.A proper vaccination waiver letter or note from your doctor/medical practitioner explaining the reason for you not getting vaccinated needs to be provided to the Border Authorities in that Country.
Be aware that problems may arise when crossing borders and the vaccination waiver may not be honoured because all Countries do not honour waivers and as a result of this you may be refused entry into that Country.
Take meticulous anti-mosquito bite measures during the daytime in Yellow Fever risk areas.
The World Health Organization announced that as of 11 July 2016, existing and new Yellow Fever vaccination certificates are valid for life. Countries can no longer require travellers to show proof of re-vaccination or a booster dose as a condition of entry. However travellers should note that this new regulation may not be honoured by all border authorities during the transition phase.
Yellow Fever vaccination is not recommended for children under 6 months of age.A vaccination certificate is required for children over 6 months of age. However,if travel for these tiny tots has to be compulsorily undertaken and the physician for the child considers vaccination unwise,please ask the physician for a letter on his/her letterhead or stationary explaining the reason for not vaccinating the child.Please note that some countries may still not honour this and the infant may be refused entry or be put under surveillance upon arrival.
An important thing to note is that Yellow Fever Vaccines are administered only at licensed clinics,so you will need to go to an authorized vaccine center to get yourself vaccinated.
VACCINATIONS : DESTINATION/TIME AND LENGTH SPECIFIC
As mentioned earlier vaccinations are destination specific,and also depend upon the trip duration,time of the year and type of travel,there are a few selective vaccines to help you plan ahead for that specific trip
Travellers to Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of South America are recommended to get themselves vaccinated for Typhoid Fever
Vaccine for Japanese Encephalitis is the most expensive of all the vaccines.Strongly recommended for a long term trip to rural areas of Southeast Asia, and most importantly involves a visit and working in agricultural areas.
Meningococcal Meningitis and Polio vaccines are required vaccines for entry into Saudi Arabia and also for all Hajj or Umrah pilgrims, or any worker, the Meningococcal Meningitis and Polio vaccines are mandatory.
Detailed Information about all the available Travel Vaccines and Travel Health Safety measures are available on this site.The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers or IAMAT is a non profit organisation that works towards keeping travellers healthy.Their mission is to make the World a healthier place. They work towards providing an up to date and impartial health information.Information for this post has also been sourced from IAMAT and would to credit IAMAT for the pool of Vaccine knowledge provided for travellers of all ages and groups
The Information about Travel Health Safety and Vaccines may also be amended from time to time. Travellers are recommended to check for latest updates if any at the time of their journey
Travel Healthy and Travel Safe