What Is Travel Medicine?
Originally, travel medicine (also referred to as tropical medicine) was a medical specialty that dealt with the prevention and treatment of diseases, such as yellow fever or malaria, that mostly occur in developing countries or areas in temperate climate zones. However, in today's busy world of international travel, travel medicine includes the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of all diseases associated with all forms of travel.
Who Needs Travel Medical Services?
Anyone traveling can benefit from travel medical services prior to his or her trip. Over the years, disease control in our country has eliminated many of the health risks faced with international travel, but it never hurts to visit a travel medicine clinic for a consultation with a travel doctor prior to any trip. Due to the lowered risk for many diseases, we often forget about routine booster shots or other important immunizations such as an annual flu shot. If your travel itinerary is outside the United States, then it is very important to be current on all travel immunizations as well as meeting the requirements for recommended and required travel vaccinations.
Why Do I Need Travel Shots To Travel Abroad?
Certain travel shots are needed for travel to certain locations. To know exactly which travel immunizations are recommended or required, you can use our website's "Find Your Destination" locator at the bottom of this page or return to the Home Page and click on our world travel map. Once you have identified the travel immunizations needed for your trip, select your travel shots and pick the CareSpot Center nearest you for a consultation with a travel doctor. After the doctor has your trip itinerary, health history and conducts a physical examination he or she can recommend the best preventative measures, and other medications that may be indicated for your travel abroad.
What Is The Difference Between Required And Recommended Vaccinations?
As established by International Health Regulations of the World Health Organization, the only required vaccination is yellow fever for travelers to certain sub-Saharan countries in Africa and several countries in tropical South America. However, required vaccinations can be enacted by any country at any time for the protection of that country against the disease you might bring into their country. For example, Meningococcal vaccination is required by the government of Saudi Arabia for annual travel during the Hajj. Remember, the requirements for country-specific travel vaccinations can change quickly in response to epidemic threats.
Why Isn't There An Exact List Of Shots I Need For My Trip?
No such lists exist because determining the exact travel shots or other medications that you need depends upon many variables including your trip itinerary, personal health history, age and previous routine immunizations. So, it is important to seek travel advice from a reputable source such as a Travel Medicine Clinic or qualified Travel Doctor. Remember, yellow fever vaccination is the only immunization at an international level that is still required for entry into specific countries.
Where Can I Find Current Travel Health Information?
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is an excellent source of information for current travel medical recommendations and requirements for different areas of the world. The CDC posts four levels of Travel Alerts (In the News, Outbreak Notice, Travel Health Precaution, and Travel Health Warning) concerning disease outbreaks and general health advisories. International travel immunization requirements and travel health advice are also available through the World Health Organization (WHO). It is important to know that advisories from the CDC and WHO can differ, and individual countries can impose their own health requirements as deemed necessary to control the spread of endemic diseases.
How Long Before My Trip Should I Schedule My Travel Shots?
You should try to schedule your consultation with a Travel Doctor for immunizations about 4 to 6 weeks prior to any trip abroad. This gives your travel medicine clinic enough time to administer immunizations that require a series of travel vaccines. Plus, your body will need ample time to develop immunity. In addition, your travel doctor may find other health problems during your examination that you may not know exists. Any health condition should be treated before you depart for a foreign country as Western-style healthcare may not be readily available where you are going.
What Happens If I Have Less Than Four Weeks Before My Trip?
If you less than 4 weeks before you travel, it is even more important to schedule a consultation with a travel doctor as quick as you can. Depending upon where you are traveling to and how long you expect to be gone, there are a number of travel vaccines that can still be effective for prevention of disease. Your travel doctor may also prescribe other medications based on your age, current health condition, shot records and trip itinerary. Plus, you may still benefit from the doctor's advice about non-prescription health measure that can be especially beneficial for someone who did not receive the recommended travel vaccinations.
What Information Should I Bring For My Consultation?
Your travel doctor will need to see your trip itinerary including the dates of stay in each region of all the countries of destination. This will allow the doctor to identify areas of endemic tropical diseases by seasons. If you know what activities (i.e., relief work outdoors) you will be undertaking, your travel doctor may recommend additional travel shots or medications to provide additional protection. It is also very helpful to bring your shot records or immunization card, if available. If not, some vaccinations may have to be repeated to satisfy your travel requirements. Don't forget that your travel doctor will need a detailed health history so be prepared to provide information about previous health conditions, medications and allergies.
Do I Need Other Things Besides Travel Vaccinations?
Depending upon where you are going and what you plan to be doing, your travel doctor can help you decide about other protection for diseases, such as malaria, hepatitis, rabies, measles, traveler's diarrhea and altitude sickness. In addition, there are other considerations like creating your own travel health kit with insect repellant, water purification tablets, mosquito nets, first aid supplies and over-the-counter medications that may not be readily available in the country of your destination.
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