Dr. Lauren O'Byrne
Vaccines and Travel
As summer approaches and school is out, many families travel abroad. It is important to think about which vaccines you may need to stay safe and healthy during your trip.
International travel can be a fun and enriching experience, but it can also pose health risks. The type of risks you might face during travel depend on many things, including where you are traveling, your activities while traveling, the state of your health, and your vaccination history.
Many vaccine-preventable diseases that have become rare in the United States, such as measles and pertussis, are still common in other parts of the world. Certain activities, such as attending crowded events, can increase the spread of infectious disease. No matter where you plan to go, you should get recommended vaccines to lower your chances for getting and spreading disease.
Many people born after 1957 but before 1989 may have gotten only got one dose of the Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) vaccine, which might not be enough to protect them in an outbreak situation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its recommendations for the MMR vaccine in 1989 and since that time advises two doses of the vaccine, which is 97% effective in preventing these diseases. If you were born before 1989, checking your antibody titers with a blood test is advisable.
Other vaccines, such as typhoid, yellow fever, Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), hepatitis A and hepatitis B may be important for international travelers.
Getting vaccinated will help keep you safe and healthy while you’re traveling. It will also help make sure that you don’t bring any serious diseases home to your family, friends and community.
It’s important to get vaccinated at least 4 to 6 weeks before you travel. This will give the vaccines time to start working, so you’re protected while you’re traveling. It will also usually make sure there’s enough time for you to get vaccines that require more than 1 dose.
Contact your doctor’s office or local travel clinic for more information.