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Most important vaccines to have when planning to travel around the world

Updated: Jul 15



There is no better way than vaccines to protect oneself from contracting severe infectious diseases. Most people are vaccinated for childhood infection and other infections prevalent in his or her native region. However, things differ when traveling, as there is a high risk of exposure to uncommon infectious conditions.


Most people are vaccinated for diseases prevalent globally like diphtheria, hepatitis B, Hemophilus influenza type b, human papillomavirus, seasonal influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, tetanus, tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, rubella, rotavirus., varicella, pneumococcal disease.

Above mentioned vaccines are regarded as essential in most nations. Nonetheless, before traveling, it is necessary to make sure that you have been vaccinated for all the routines immunizations and properly access by your doctor. Depending on your travel activities risks, travel destination, and mandatory vaccines required for entry at that destination, he or she will recommend the best vaccines for your trip abroad. Sometimes you will need a booster dose of some vaccines. It is always best to visit your doctor or travel clinic to discuss your travel needs, so you travel with peace of mind and are healthy throughout your trip.

North America

Most childhood vaccines are enough, and there are no particular recommendations for this area of the world. Nonetheless, it is good to consider some of the vaccines for additional protection like measles (booster dose), or if you are unsure about your vaccination status better get vaccinated with MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella). Hepatitis A, B, and rotavirus vaccines are also recommended. 

One should also keep track of seasonal outbreaks of influenza, meningococcal disease, and pneumonia prevalence in the region one is planning to visit. For all these conditions, vaccines are available. Please always consult your MD.

 Central and South America

 Central and Southern America are both diverse, and many tropical infections are widely prevalent there. As in any case, first ensure that you had all the essential vaccines like MMR, polio, tetanus, diphtheria. 

Other highly recommended vaccines are hepatitis A the most common vaccine-preventable infectious diseases in the world, typhoid, and yellow fever. 

Both typhoid and hepatitis diseases are spread by contaminated food and water, so always wash your hand correctly. Additionally, consider rabies and meningococcal vaccines too. The rabies vaccine is only needed if you think that you may encounter animals.

Infections like Zika virus, Malaria, and dengue are common in Latin America and get ready to take some antimalaria drugs before your trip and consult with your physician for the best recommendation as some drugs are more effective than others. Mosquitos are rampant, so make sure you adequately protected.

Europe

This region has a low risk of contracting any severe infectious disease. Due to the high level of vaccination and improved socioeconomic status, many diseases have been eradicated from the continent. Nonetheless, the risk of infectious diseases is higher in the Eastern part of Europe.

Essential vaccines like measles, mumps, tetanus, pertussis, diphtheria, will provide enough protection. However, in recent times some parts of Europe are witnessing a resurgence of measles. Further, the risk of tuberculosis, hepatitis A & B may be high in some regions. Rabies is also present in a few nations.

When visiting Europe, pay special attention to the seasonal outbreak of influence and get vaccinated accordingly.

Tick-borne diseases is another health risk when visiting Europe, especially when visiting national parks during the spring season. Thus, consider Tick-borne encephalitis vaccine. 

Asia

When traveling to Asia, remember that it has many similarities to Latin America in terms of climate. Most tropical and subtropical nations of Asia, especially South Asia and South East Asia, can be regarded as high-risk zones for contracting tropical infections. Thus, ensure that you have been vaccinated for most common ailments. Get booster dose for diphtheria, tetanus (every 10 years), booster dose for hepatitis A (every 20 years), typhoid ( every 3 years where typhoid risk continues). Ensure that you had been vaccinated against hepatitis B, polio, typhoid, varicella, Japanese encephalitis, meningococcal infection, rabies, yellow fever. Please always consult your doctor for the best recommendation.

Zika is uncommon in these regions, but other mosquito-borne diseases like chikungunya, Malaria, dengue is quite common. Since vaccines against these and many such infections do not exist, take extra caution.

Africa

Africa is a vast continent, like everywhere else on the planet; it is essential to check with your healthcare provider or travel clinic the mandatory vaccines before your trip. Thus, make sure that you had all the routine vaccines like MMR, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, varicella, polio. Rabies is also common in some Africa regions, and rabies vaccination would be recommended if you intend to do lots of outdoor activities on your trip. 

Most travelers are also recommended to get vaccinated with the hepatitis A and typhoid vaccine. Wash what you eat very well and your hands often. Yellow fever risk is high in some parts of Africa, and it is mandatory in most countries to have a yellow fever certificate before entry. While preparing your trip, keep in mind that you must have this vaccination at least 10 days before entering a yellow fever area. Hepatitis B occurs in almost every part of the world and tends to be more prevalent in certain regions. However, anyone traveling for medical purposes in Africa is considered at a higher risk; hence It is especially recommended for those types of travelers to get vaccinated against Hepatitis B.

Further, take precautions against insect and mosquito bites. Travelers should consider taking anti-malarial medicines prior to their trip to Africa. Be prepared to also travel with some essential travel medicine not easily available in some countries.

Oceania

Spans from Indonesia to Australia, with varied climate zones. Some areas are high risk with a tropical climate and another low risk like continental Australia. Apart from routine vaccinations, get vaccinated against rabies, typhoid, hepatitis A, Japanese encephalitis. The risk of getting infected with mosquito-borne diseases like Malaria, dengue, and chikungunya is moderately high in these regions.

Antarctica

It is one of the safest of continents from the point of view of catching an infection. Due to the cold climate, the environment is quite sterile, and even insects rarely carry diseases that may harm humans. Nonetheless, one should ensure to get vaccinated with all the routine vaccines, as medical facilities are barely available there, and even minor illness may put lives at risk. Further, one may get vaccinated for infections like shingles, pneumonia, influenza. Hepatitis A and B vaccines may also be considered.

The world is a big place, and exploring the world is a great experience. Prevention through vaccinations can ensure that you return to your home from your world travels safe and at ease. In recent years, due to anti-vaccination campaigns, risk of certain diseases has grown even in the developed nations. It is imperative to stay up to date with your shots while venturing abroad or at home so that the whole family and communities at home or abroad are safe and healthy and above all free of diseases, especially those that can be prevented through vaccinations.

Are you up to date with your shots? Stay informed and contact your health provider if you are unsure, and of course, don't forget to check the required or mandatory vaccines for your destination before your trip! Happy and Safe Travel!

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