Long-distance adventures – Vaccination and abroad

Finally came the time for the long-awaited trip abroad. Plans started a long time ago: airline tickets, hotel reservations, car rental, sightseeing plans. Bags are removed from the ceiling to be packed, and the excitement mounts every day. Everything is a hike.

But wait – what about vaccines?

Is this another preparation that should be added to the "To Do It" list? Traveling outside the country can feel like an undertaking to another planet. Photos of exotic destinations, combined with new, curious foods, dance from the pages of tourist brochures. Predicting the unexpected can be challenging for even the most seasoned traveler. Traveling with children, however, adds an extra dimension to anxiety – the thought of your child getting sick in a foreign country is extremely frightening. Your doctor recommends different vaccines. Are they necessary? How do you evaluate the risks?

Hepatitis B is a viral infection that is spread through contact with blood. In the US, hepatitis B occurs mainly in adults and is spread through intimate contact or by sharing needles used with illicit drugs. Hepatitis B is more common in the general population in East and Southeast Asia and in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, the risk of long-term complications is much less than we usually believe. More than 95 percent of those who are infected with hepatitis B recover completely and the infection will lead to immunity to that person's life. Unless you plan to spend extended periods in close contact with infected persons, the risks of contracting hepatitis B while traveling are extremely low.

polio is an infectious disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. The disease is mainly observed in children under five; initial symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, vomiting, stiff neck and limb pain. Paralysis causes about 1 to 2 percent of children who become infected with a viral infection, although most recover completely from this paralysis. However, some continue to have permanent disabilities throughout their lives.

Polio is almost eradicated. Once widespread in the underdeveloped world, as of February 2006, only four countries still report isolated outbreaks: Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. In addition, there have been no cases of wild polio in the Western Hemisphere since 1991.

Vaccination against polio continues in the United States, with 5 doses given before entering school (1) on the grounds that until polio is fully eradicated, the risk of reintroduction of polio in that country is "just a plane by car". However, the survey revealed only six cases of imported polio documented between 1980 and 1998, the last in New York in 1993. (2) The risk of polio infection at home is negligible; the risks abroad are almost the same.

tetanus is a acute, spastic paralytic disease caused by a toxin released by the bacterium Clostridium tetani. The bacterium is found in soils and animal faeces worldwide. The neonatal tetanus is the most lethal and the type most commonly depicted in the case of textbook tetanus. However, most of these cases occur after the birth and use of non-sterile umbilical cord cutting equipment. While other forms of tetanus are a serious illness, recovery is the norm. In other words, tetanus is not a uniformly fatal disease. If you are traveling to remote areas, such as the rucksack in areas without medical attention and without clean water, you may want to consider your tetanus condition carefully.

However, a word of caution: A tetanus stroke does not guarantee protection. In a study published by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) in 1997, 13% of people who contracted tetanus had four or more tetanus. (3) Your best protection against tetanus is to thoroughly clean the wound with copious amounts of heat, ie. soapy water and to encourage the injury to bleed profusely for a few minutes. Apply hydrogen peroxide to cleanse your wound, followed by a topical antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin.


When traveling abroad, you may experience some illnesses that are not commonly seen in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control lists the following infections as possible concerns for anyone traveling to any destination around the world:

Typhoid Fever, an acute, febrile illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi, is characterized by high fever, headache and enlargement of the spleen. The greatest risk is for travelers to the Indian subcontinent and developing countries in Asia, Africa and Central and South America, who will have prolonged exposure to potentially non-refrigerated foods.

Yellow fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease that can vary in severity from flu-like syndrome to severe hepatitis and hemorrhagic fever. The disease is found only in sub-Saharan Africa and in rural, tropical South America.

Japanese encephalitis, another mosquito-borne viral infection, is found throughout Asia, especially in the rural or rural areas of the temperate regions of China, Japan, Korea, and Eastern Russia. The risk to short-term commuters is very small.

For all these potential infections, it is important to get a natural repellent mosquito that does not contain DEET, a toxic additive that is found in most insects. , a Royal Neem case. It is chemical free and contains many natural ingredients.

Hepatitis A is a viral disease that has an initial fever and diarrhea, followed within a few days by jaundice (yellowing). The disease varies in clinical severity from no symptoms to mild illness lasting one to two weeks. Although endemic worldwide, hepatitis A can be prevented by carefully observing hygiene and following several dietary recommendations:

1. Eat only cooked foods hot to the touch. Avoid eating food from street vendors.

2. Avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables unless you peel them yourself.

3. Drink only safe drinks: bottled water, hot tea, coffee, beer, wine and boiled water; Avoid drinking ice drinks.

5. Avoid eating raw or uncooked meat and seafood (risk of hepatitis).

6. Avoid all tap water and make sure you have shower water in your mouth. When dining at restaurants, ask if the lettuces have been washed in boiled, distilled or bottled water.

7. Avoid milk and dairy products with unknown refrigeration standards.


Although the CDC recommends that all travelers receive vaccines when traveling abroad, it is important to realize that, with one exception, no vaccine is required before traveling to any point in the world: they are only "recommended". You will not be required to be vaccinated to enter a country, nor will you be required to receive vaccines to return home. The only exception is the Yellow Fever vaccine, which may be necessary if you are traveling to or from South America or Africa infected with yellow fever. Recommendations may vary from country to country; if such a destination is part of your travel plans, you should look for yellow fever requirements for that country. (4)

I've been a globe for most of my life. Over the last 25 years, I have been lucky to travel to more than 40 countries. I have never been asked about vaccines, nor have I ever felt the need for any vaccines, even when traveling to remote, exotic destinations.

The ultimate advice? Be sure to pack your passport, sunglasses and your favorite book. Have fun and don't risk getting sick before you go through multiple vaccinations.