Whether you’re traveling overseas for a well-deserved vacation or working abroad, there are some things you should definitely do before going. The first is getting international health insurance from a reputable insurance firm, like Now Health International. The second is making sure you get the vaccinations you need for traveling, ideally months before your trip.
Of course, many vaccines depend on the place where you’re going. However, here’s a list the top 6 vaccines that you should most likely need before traveling abroad.
- Hepatitis A and B vaccines. These two strains of the Hepatitis virus attack the liver directly and could be fatal if not treated properly. Hepatitis A infections can arise from eating fruit, vegetables, or other food that may have been contaminated with the virus upon handling. It can also be gotten from consuming shellfish that has been harvested from water that’s also been exposed with the virus, as well as through sexual contact. Hepatitis B on the other hand can be gotten from being exposed to blood or bodily fluids carrying the virus. The good news is that even if you do get infected, there’s a good chance that your immune system will take care of it. On the other hand, there is also a chance that it could severely damage your liver, which could be fatal unless you get a liver transplant. The symptoms aren’t something to sneeze at either, from chronic fatigue and serious stomach issues to belly pain and jaundice. Don’t risk it – get vaccinated as soon as possible.
- Typhoid vaccine. This particular illnesses is caused by the bacteria Salmonella Typhi, and it is prevalent in places with poor sanitation, such as certain parts of Africa, Asia, South and Central America, as well as the Middle East. The bacteria itself is usually found in the bodily fluids and waste of infected people and carriers. As such, you can get infected by ingesting the bacteria through your mouth, either by drinking water or eating food prepared by those who are carrying the bacteria within them. Symptoms can range between poor appetite and headaches, generalized aches and pains, and high fever. While rarely fatal on its own, typhoid infection can cause you to be very ill and weak, as well as cause any number of complications that could easily be fatal. Get yourself vaccinated from typhoid especially if you’re traveling to a country that presents a high risk of infection.
- Meningococcemia vaccine. Meningoccocemia is a rare infection caused by the bacteria known as the Neisseria meningitidis. This particular bacteria is transmitted through the air, specifically from the coughing and sneezing of infected people or carriers. It doesn’t necessarily cause illness. However, if it gets into your bloodstream, then it can cause you a number of symptoms ranging from mild ones such as fever and headache to more serious and life-threatening ones, like affecting your blood’s ability to clot as well as shock. It could even result in meningitis, which is what happens when the bacteria gets into your brain or spinal cord – and this in turn can cause complications like hearing loss, brain damage, gangrene and death.
- Yellow fever vaccine. Yellow fever is a virus that is endemic to the tropical and subtropical areas of South America and Africa, as well as certain populated areas in Brazil. It is mainly spread through mosquito bites. A newly infected individual may suffer symptoms such as fever, chills, backache and muscle aches in three to six days. If left untreated, it could result in complications that involve bleeding, shock, organ failure and death. By getting yourself vaccinated from Yellow Fever, you not only protect yourself from the virus but you also get a signed and stamped “yellow card”. This is known as the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis that proves that you did indeed receive the vaccine. Without this card, some countries may bar you from entering their borders.
- Japanese Encephalitis. Japanese Encephalitis is a very serious viral infection that occurs mainly in rural parts of Asia. Just like Yellow fever, it is also spread through mosquito bites, but it isn’t transmissible from person to person. Most infections can range from having no or few symptoms at all to full-blown encephalitis, the latter of which can result in fever, neck stiffness, seizures and coma. About 1 in 4 infections that reach this stage result in death, while those who survive suffer permanent and lifelong disability. While it is believed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that there is very little risk for travelers to get Japanese Encephalitis, the risk is higher if you are traveling to rural areas or spending a lot of time outdoors.
- Routine and recommended vaccines. Even if you’ve had the vaccinations required for travel, you still need to see your doctor to check if your general routine vaccines are up to date, such as those pertaining to tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Besides these, ask your doctor if there are any recommended vaccines that you may need to take as well. These vaccines are more of a “general protective measure” kind of deal, and help prevent the spread of serious diseases from one country to another.
Whatever your reason for traveling abroad, whether it’s for a vacation or for something more long-term like an overseas career, always make sure that you receive the proper vaccinations long before your trip. Your health takes priority above all else, and it could get you saddled not only with a crippling disease or condition, but burdensome medical bills to boot. Stay healthy and safe no matter where you are.