Hepatitis A is a very common viral infection that people catch from food and water. If you were born in another country you may have had this disease as a child. When you are a young child this disease is not severe. If you get this disease as an adult you may become very ill and could even die. If you had this disease as a child you contract it again. If you have not been vaccinated for Hepatitis A in the past, you should get the vaccine before you travel. Two doses more than 6 months apart provide optimal protection. However, at least one dose preferably 4-6 weeks but even up to the week before travel, will protect most travelers. The second dose provides the long term protection. You only need one vaccine before you travel and that will protect you during your trip. You should get a second vaccine 6-12 months after the first and then you are protected for the rest of your life.
Typhoid is another disease that usually comes from contaminated food or water. It usually causes very high fevers and pain in the stomach area. It can become very serious and cause death. If you are traveling to visit your friends and family in your country of origin you are the most likely kind of traveler to get this disease. There is a pill and a shot form of the vaccine. It takes 7 days to take all the pills and you need to finish these before you leave. The pill form is more complicated but lasts for 5 years before you need it again. The shot form is just one shot. The shot lasts for 2 years before you need it again.
Meningitis is an infection around the brain. There is a vaccine for the bacterial kind of meningitis that is especially common in some parts of Africa. If you are traveling to these areas, Pivot Travel Medicine recommends that you obtain this vaccine. It is also required by Saudi Arabia for entry into that country, if you plan to attend the Hajj because this disease is very common in these settings. In other areas it might be indicated if you are staying with friends and family, especially if you will be there for an extended stay. Your Pivot Travel Medicine specialist can advise you how long it will be before you need another vaccination.
The flu (influenza) causes fevers, cough, headaches, muscle aches and can cause serious illness even death. In North America, it occurs in the winter. In the tropics, it occurs year- round. It is very common in travelers. The flu strain causing illness changes every year. To be protected, you should receive the flu vaccination each year.
Rabies is a very serious disease that may be transmitted from a dog bite or a bite from a bat. Many other animals, like monkeys, skunks and raccoons, can also cause this disease. If you are bitten by an animal while you are traveling, you should scrub the bite wound for at least 5 minutes with soap and water and see a doctor as soon as possible after the bite so you can immediately start a series of shots. Getting the vaccine is extremely important. Everyone who develops rabies, dies from rabies. There is not any treatment once you get sick. There is a vaccine for rabies to prevent the disease in case of a bite. It is expensive and you need at least 3 separate shots. If you will be traveling for a long period you should consider getting these shots. Children are especially at risk of getting bit by dogs and not telling anyone about a bite. So, it is important to think of vaccinating children.
Yellow fever occurs in parts of Africa and South America. It causes very serious illness and usually death. This vaccine is frequently required with travel to certain areas or may be required if crossing between countries during travel. If you get this vaccine you will be given a “yellow card” that you should take with you to prove you got this vaccine. This disease is transmitted by mosquito bites so mosquitoes should be avoided. This vaccine lasts for 10 years before you need another one.
This disease is prevalent in Southeast Asia and South Asia. This disease is also contracted from mosquitoes. If you are visiting areas outside of major cities, particularly in rural areas where there are rice paddies and/or pigs, and your stay exceeds one month, your Pivot Travel Medicine specialist may recommend this vaccine for you. You need at least two separate shots that must be started a few weeks before travel to be fully protected.
Polio is a virus which may affect the nervous system. It causes muscle weakness and paralysis. In the United States, polio has been eradicated. Infants and children should all be vaccinated against polio as part of a routine immunization series. There are countries in which the polio virus is still in circulation. Polio vaccination is recommended for all travelers to countries these countries. An adult who was previously vaccinated as a child should receive a booster shot.
Hepatitis B virus is a disease which affects the liver. It is transmitted by contact with contaminated blood, blood products, and other body fluids. Activities associated with transmission include those that may increase the likelihood of contaminated blood or body fluid exposure. Travelers may be at increased risk due to engaging in casual and unprotected sex, having medical procedures in areas where blood may not be screened, or even through obtaining tattoos, or having acupuncture. In the United States, children and health care workers are routinely vaccinated for hepatitis B. Three doses of hepatitis B vaccine are required for immunity.