Staying up-to-date is essential
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Vaccines save lives. Brendan Anzalone, MD, the president and chief medical officer of AeroMD Air Ambulance says peace of mind is something you can’t package in a carry-on or checked bag, but it is something you can have if you meet with your doctor before takeoff. “A meeting with your personal physician to go over your vaccination history is a good starting point for simple shots, such as updating tetanus or getting the flu vaccine. For travel to more exotic locales, it may be a good idea to consult with a travel medicine specialist to see what area-specific vaccines may be needed for your travels,” he says. These are the 12 diseases you never knew you could get on vacation.
Though this list isn’t exhaustive—considering there are hundreds of medications and vaccinations you may consider, depending on how long you’ll be out of the country and what visas you’re collecting—this is a smart launching pad to nomadic health:
Hepatitis A vaccine
Depending on where you go, the health codes may be less than stellar: Hepatitis A can be a dangerous possibility, according to endovascular and general surgeon, Arno Rotgans, MD. Caused by fecal-to-oral contact, where maybe a street food vendor didn’t properly wash his or her hands post-bathroom, pre-cooking, this ailment is potentially life-threatening, the vaccination prevents a viral infection of your liver.
The regimen: Two shots, six months apart
Potential side effects: Flu-like symptoms for a few days
Countries of risk: Central or South America, Mexico, Asia and Africa. Areas with contaminated water supplies, without any regulations or oversight regarding food preparation and sporadic adherence to hygiene in restaurants, according to Dr. Rotgans. Here are the 14 reasons you always get sick on vacation.
Typhoid fever vaccine
Another disease that can be transmitted by poor hygeine is salmonella typhi, especially if that street food isn’t properly cooked to rid it of bad bacteria or fecal-to-oral contamination. By opting into the typhoid fever vaccine, Dr. Rotgans explains, you prevent, “a horrible infection of the gastrointestinal tract that causes severe diarrhea, with one-third of people infected dying if they are untreated.”
The regimen: One shot two weeks before travel, or a pill that’s taken every other day for four days
Potential side effects: Flu-like symptoms, stomach pain or nausea while taking it
Countries of risk: Africa, Southeast Asia, East Asia, South America and the Caribbean