Finally, your trip is here. You have your guidebook, electricity convertor and passport. Do you have protection from getting sick while you are gone? Before travelling internationally make sure your standard immunizations are up to date. Currently, CDC has travel warnings for Italy, Germany, Romania, Belgium and France because of measles outbreaks. You need two doses of MMR to be protected.
If it has been more than five years since your last tetanus shot, we recommend a booster for travelers who are going to be active (hiking, surfing, biking etc.). Any deep wound or injury that covers a large area (think road rash or a burn) can put you at risk for tetanus.
The two vaccines for Hepatitis are also recommended for most countries. Current children’s vaccine schedules include these two shots as part of the regular series. People in their 30’s and older probably were not vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B when they were younger and therefore won’t have protection from these viruses. Hepatitis B is spread through blood contact, so if you are in a car accident or end up in a hospital or clinic you may be exposed to this virus. It can live on surfaces for 7 days. Hepatitis A is from contaminated food and water and takes months to recover from an infection. Adults with Hepatitis A get sicker than children infected with Hepatitis A.
Travelling on airplanes puts you in close proximity to people with little option of getting away from their viruses and bacteria. This is why we always talk about having a current flu shot. There is nothing worse than getting sick with the flu at the beginning of your vacation. Wash your hands after you use the bathroom and before you eat, especially on planes and in airports. When you can use soap and water, there are some viruses (like noro virus aka the stomach flu) that are not killed by hand sanitizers.
Some countries require a Yellow Fever vaccination to enter. In the last few years, some countries have required a polio vaccine. A great resource to see what immunizations you may need is CDC’s Travelers Health website https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/. This website will tell you about malaria prophylaxis, recommended immunizations, first aid kits etc.
If you need malaria medication or an antibiotic for traveler’s diarrhea talk with your healthcare provider. In most cases, they can also provide you with your travel vaccines. Start early with your vaccines as most need a few weeks (or months) to provide you protection. If you have additional questions or would like to schedule a travel consultation please call Gallatin County Health Dept. at 582-3100.