Travel Vaccinations: how and which vaccinations to opt for?

Travel Vaccination

Traveling to exotic places around the world can be both enthralling and risky at the same time. The adventurous side of traveling to an exotic location is something everyone knows about, but the downsides are something which not many people consider before they travel to such a location. We’re talking about the possible diseases one may catch hold of, during their travel trip to some parts of the world. The solution is – vaccination.

However, vaccinations can be both expensive and not at all required in some cases, so it is better to do your research before you opt for it. This will save your time, money and possible side-effects these vaccinations may have on your body. Thus, be smart and picky when it comes to vaccinations and get only those which are absolutely necessary for your visit to that specific region of the world.

We’ve come up with a list of some factors which you can count on while considering which vaccinations to opt for. Here it goes –

  • Risk of catching illness in the specific area of travel

Some illnesses are seasonal, while some increase or decrease depending on a number of factors. This is precisely why you should figure out the risk of catching the illness and get vaccinations accordingly. This is the reason why some countries require a proof of vaccination for entering that specific country. For instance, you have to show proof of vaccination for Yellow Fever before you can enter Uganda.

You should also go through the list of recommended vaccinations for the country you’re traveling to, and get appropriate vaccinations.

  • The illness you can’t get!

There are some illnesses you can’t get unless there is an active outbreak of that illness in the area you’re visiting. For example, Japanese Encephalitis. So, there’s no need to get a vaccination for that illness as you are completely safe.

  • Benefits Vs. Potential Side Effects

Although vaccination may sound like a completely good thing which can insulate you from potentially harmful illnesses, it is not so. Certain vaccinations have potential side-effects on the body of the recipient and may cause harmful effects. So, vaccination should not be taken unless absolutely required.

A healthy immune system can easily knock down most of the harmful germs, but it is not the same with others having a weakened immune system. So, children or pregnant women should be given special considerations while opting for vaccinations before traveling.

  • Not for every part of the world!

Vaccinations for travel are not meant for all parts of the world, but rather only to the underdeveloped parts of the Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Further, numerous studies have pointed out that the risk associated with the illnesses increases in the rural and offbeat areas of that country. So, always remember that although offbeat traveling is fun and adventurous, it is can very easily turn into a misadventure if you don’t take proper vaccinations before visiting these areas.

That being said, only 5% of the 50-75 % people who complain about some sort of health problems actually seek medical attention, which proves that if you take proper precautions and go safe, no serious illness can bother you or your family.

  • Play it safe!

Being a backpacker traveler is not an easy thing, especially when it comes to vaccinations and the costs associated with it. Some vaccinations can be really expensive (as high as $800!), so it is important that you pick only those which are absolutely necessary and leave out the rest.

But to leave out vaccinations, you have to be safe and take necessary precautions. This applies to even those who have taken vaccinations. For instance, you can easily be sure of not contacting Hepatitis A or Typhoid if you stay away from contaminated water or food. You can use filtered/bottled water and wash your fruits/vegetables before eating it to avoid the harmful germs from entering your body.

As for dengue and malaria, you can opt for bug spray over vaccinations to prevent mosquito bites because anyway, no vaccination for dengue is available yet. Also, you can carry some basic travel medicines which can come in handy and act as your travel doctor in case of emergency. So if you play it safe, you can enjoy your stay without worrying about these harmful illnesses.

  • Get vaccination in the destination country!

When you’re traveling, there’s also an option to get yourself vaccinated in the destination country. This is much cheaper than getting it done in your own country, so if you are a backpack traveler, you can count on this tip. You can thus get a vaccination for more illnesses with the same amount of money than you could in your home country. This makes it a win-win situation for you.

However, that being said, there are some essential vaccinations which you definitely should take to reduce the chances of getting these illnesses considerably. These are –

  • Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is quite common in most parts of the world and is a viral infection that affects the liver. It is not a fatal nor a chronic condition, but adults can fall ill for a good couple of months or more if they come in contact with it. You can contact this disease if you are not careful about the quality of water you are drinking because it spreads with infected water. Also, raw fruits, foods or ice contaminated with Hepatitis A virus can cause this illness.

Hepatitis A can affect the liver and can cause nausea and severe stomach ache. Therefore, it is very important that you take vaccinations for this illness. Infants under the age of 12 months are not administered this vaccine, but they can be provided Immunoglobulin (IG) injections that are quite effective and can last up to 4-6 months.

  • Typhoid

Just like Hepatitis A, Typhoid is also quite a common disease worldwide, especially in the South Asian countries like India. The bacteria that cause typhoid are spread when they come in contact with human feces. Travelers, when eating food or drinks contaminated with human feces, can get typhoid. Typhoid causes very high fever, along with severe stomach pain and a range of other problems as well.

Therefore, typhoid vaccination is very important if you’re visiting any South Asian nation, especially rural areas where the risk is higher. Children under the age of 2 years can easily get typhoid vaccination in the form of a single dose of injection which usually lasts up to 2 years. On the other hand, children below the age of 6 can get a series of four pills which should be given at least one week before your departure as typhoid vaccine. The only drawback of typhoid vaccination is that it lacks the efficacy to counter typhoid and is only 60-70 % effective.

So, you can skip this vaccination if you want and take necessary precautions for preventing Typhoid instead. Also, typhoid fever responds well to antibiotics if you happen to fall ill at all.

  • Yellow Fever

Yellow Fever is quite a serious viral disease that usually spreads through mosquito bites. Although it rarely affects travelers, it can prove fatal if left untreated. Thus, it is a very serious illness, and this is precisely why more than 100 countries require proof of vaccination before you can enter the nation. The virus which spreads through mosquito bites, can affect the liver and blood and cause a number of health issues including jaundice, flu-like symptoms, and fever.

Therefore, it is very essential that you take vaccinations for yellow fever, which are quite efficient (up to 75-95 %). Yellow fever vaccine prevents the virus from attacking your body to quite a great extent.

Thus, to sum up, getting the right vaccinations can prevent your body from harmful viruses that may cause some really serious illnesses. That being said, be careful and pick only those vaccinations that are absolutely required for the country you’re visiting. Happy traveling!

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