Common Questions About Travel Vaccinations

Mar 22


Andrea Avery

Andrea Avery

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If you're planning to travel outside the USA, you'll probably be required to get travel vaccinations that are designed to protect your body from foreign diseases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasizes that travel vaccinations are crucial,Common Questions About Travel Vaccinations Articles especially for those traveling to a foreign country where unfamiliar diseases exist. In the USA individuals are exposed to specific strains of viruses and bacteria. The body builds immunity and fights each possible re-occurrence before it seriously affects the individual. The typical American immunization schedule also protects the majority of US residents from severe diseases that have caused major health problems and epidemics in the past. However, being transplanted into a foreign environment, even for a short period of time, exposes your body to illnesses that it's probably never fought before.

How Do Vaccinations Work?

Vaccinations introduce your body to new and very serious diseases without the risk of your body succumbing to the disease. Basically, an inactive virus is injected into your body. Your body responds to it by building antibodies that "fight" the inactive cells. Once built, these antibodies are always present in your body. That way, if an active virus of that strain were ever to enter your body, you'd have a much better chance of overcoming the disease instead of getting sick.

How Do I Know Which Travel Vaccinations to Get?

Every international traveler should plan to visit his primary care physician 4 to 6 weeks before the planned overseas trip. The doctor will recommend which vaccinations to get, and may even recommend a routine of certain medication to prevent the body from becoming a victim of foreign diseases. Even if the trip is sooner than 4 weeks, it's a good idea to visit the doctor.

For instance, travelers to tropical South America will probably be required to have the yellow fever vaccination, since that disease is common. Your primary care physician may also prescribe a medicinal regime to prevent malaria, another common disease in that area of the world.

Are There Any Precautionary Measures When Administering Vaccines?

In some instances, the threat of a vaccine must be weighed against the odds of getting the illness. For instance, a pregnant woman should not receive some vaccinations because the virus, though inactive, may harm her unborn child. However, if the risk of getting the disease is higher than the risks to the unborn child associated with the travel vaccinations, then it's better to get vaccinated.

Mothers who are breastfeeding are usually able to receive vaccinations without any risk of harm to the baby. It is important to note that vaccines administered to the mother will only benefit the mother. Antibodies do not pass through breast milk, so the baby may need to get vaccinated if he will be traveling overseas also.

Individuals whose immune system is already compromised by an acute illness should wait to get their travel vaccinations until they recover. Minor illnesses that exhibit no signs of fever won't pose danger to the individual.

Finally, a patient whose immune system is compromised by HIV infection may receive some vaccinations safely. They will probably need to have more than one dose to be sure their body has built up the antibodies it needs. Those whose immune system is suppressed by procedures such as radiation, chemotherapy, or prescriptions of immune-suppressant drugs will also be limited in the travel vaccinations they'll be allowed.

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