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Vaccinated for vacation

Before you travel abroad, get the shots you need to stay healthy.

There's so much to plan before taking an overseas trip. You'll need a passport, of course, and suitcases. You won't want to forget a toothbrush, deodorant, socks, vaccines...

Wait a minute. Do I need to be immunized before I go?

Maybe. It depends on where you're going and what sorts of diseases are common in that part of the world.

If you're going to Brazil, you probably want a yellow fever vaccine. Going to South Asia? You may need to consider typhoid immunization for some areas.

The vaccines you need also depend on who you and your traveling companions are: Anyone under age 2? Are you traveling with a senior citizen? Does anyone in your group have lowered immunity due to HIV or cancer treatment?

Vaccines for kids

Before taking a child out of the country, be sure he or she is up-to-date on routine immunizations, recommends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Links to recommended immunization schedules for children of different ages can be found at cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html.

Vaccines for adults

Adults traveling to faraway lands should review their lifetime vaccination history. It's possible an adult might need:

  • Booster shots for diphtheria and tetanus.
  • Additional polio vaccine, especially if traveling to Afghanistan, Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Somalia.
  • Measles vaccine, especially if born after 1956.

Good sources for healthy travel

A good place to begin investigating diseases in your destination is CDC's travel website. It's easy to navigate, and you can get information specific to your destination.

The site also offers:

  • Information on how to eat and drink safely in other countries, including instructions on preparing questionable water for safe toothbrushing and why you might need to clean soda can rims.
  • Information on preventing and treating traveler's diarrhea.
  • Immunization information for people with compromised immune systems.
  • Information for travelers with disabilities, traveling with children, vacationing on cruise ships, and health issues for airline passengers.
The U.S. State Department also has a good travel website. This site offers current warnings for international travel, travel publications and—without personal endorsement—lists of doctors, hospitals and even lawyers in various countries, should the need arise.

The World Health Organization's website also has good information for travelers, including current disease outbreaks around the globe.

reviewed 9/27/2019

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