Posts Tagged ‘vaccinations’

Good Health: Don’t Leave Home Without It
Thursday, October 25th, 2012

You’ve heard them: stories of woe from your friends and family.  It was a vacation derailed by diarrhea.  Or a business trip sabotaged by jet lag and food poisoning.  Or maybe a spring break trip undone by dehydration, “Montezuma’s revenge” or worse…

You’ve worked too hard to prepare for your travels.  Don’t let a few preventable health issues ruin your time abroad.  Instead, keep these simple precautions in mind, and you’ll be free to enjoy the trip of your dreams!

Beat the Bugs

? Tropical insects like mosquitoes carry malaria and other serious diseases.

? Wear insect repellent containing DEET and reapply it after swimming or heavy sweating.

? Wear protective clothing like pants and long sleeves when practical.

? Sleep in air-conditioned, well-screened areas.

? Limit outdoor activities between dusk and dawn.

? Use bed nets permeated with a permethrin insecticide.

? Use coils and insect sprays containing pyrethrum to kill insects in living or sleeping quarters.

You are what you eat (or drink)

Almost 50% of travelers come home with diarrhea, but contaminated food and water can give you more than that.

? Only buy commercially packaged water bottles and soft drinks.  Be sure to break the seal yourself!

? Consider various water purification methods, such as filters and boiling.  Be wary of ice cubes, unless you know they’re made from purified water.

? Eat food that’s well cooked and served hot.

? Avoid leftovers, food from street vendors, unpasteurized dairy products, raw shellfish, cold cuts, salads, watermelon, puddings or canned food if the tin appears swollen.

? When it comes to fruits and vegetables: peel it, boil it, or forget it!

Give your trip a shot in the arm

Your best defense against many diseases is vaccination.  Before you step on the plane, you should step into a travel clinic to receive your recommended shots.

? Your destination country may require you to get certain shots.  That’s a great place to start!  However, these requirements are in place to protect the citizens of that country, not you.  To find out what shots you need to protect your health, visit a travel clinic.

? Some vaccines take time to work.  Schedule your appointment four to six weeks before you leave.  (Procrastinator alert: if you’ve got less than four weeks to go, it’s still worth it to make an appointment.  Some shots start to work much faster and even partial immunity is better than none!)

? Remember to include the price of vaccines in your budget.  Like travelers’ insurance, a little expense now can save you big bucks in health care costs later.

More tips!

If you found this article helpful, check us out on Facebook and Twitter for daily travel health tips.

Passport Health is a trusted name in travel medicine with over 200 locations across the United States.  We would love an opportunity to talk to you about your trip and provide any supplies or vaccines you may need to stay healthy.  Make an appointment today!


10 Steps to Knowing What Travel Immunizations You Need
Monday, May 28th, 2012

A major consideration when planning a career break or other extended travel through multiple countries is getting the appropriate vaccinations and pills.  Not only is maintaining your health one of the most important elements while abroad, but some countries require certain vaccinations in order to qualify for an entry visa.  The problem is, when we started researching the requirements, we were easily lost in a myriad of information which was sometimes contradictory.

Here, we share our 10 steps to a better immunization experience!

Step 1: Start early.  Certain vaccinations come in a series that may take 4-6 months to complete.

Step 2: Prepare a list of potential destinations.

Step 3: Go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and locate the Traveler’s Health section.   There are 3 categories of vaccinations: Routine, Required, and Recommended.  Routine vaccinations include childhood immunizations.  There are only a few Required vaccinations necessary for entry into certain countries or to obtain a visa.  Most of the time, the choice to be vaccinated is ultimately up to you, which are listed under the Recommended section.

Step 4: Go to a Passport and Visa Services website such as and research visa immunization requirements by destination.  This may be different than what the CDC states.  For example, Brazil is listed by the CDC as a country where yellow fever risk is present, but a vaccination is not necessarily required for entry.  However, if your nationality requires a visa to enter Brazil, and you are coming from a yellow fever risk country, you will need a yellow fever vaccination as a visa requirement.

Step 5: Gather your immunization history, such as your childhood immunization records.  Questions that may be asked when getting your immunizations include: the last date of your tetanus shot, whether you received a Measles/Mumps/Rubella vaccination and booster, whether you’ve had chickenpox or not, etc.

Step 6: Schedule a consultation with a travel immunization clinic or specialist.  We scheduled a consultation due to the complexity of our travel itinerary.  The very thorough and informative 1.5 to 2 hour consultation cost $150 for the both of us.   Overall, it was a highly productive meeting to have a consultant break down 300 pages of travel documents into information we could use.  The consultant also gave us prescriptions for antibiotics, altitude sickness, and malaria, should we choose to fill them.

Step 7: Based on the information collected, make decisions on what immunizations and prescriptions you want/need.  This is the hard part.  Fortunately, many recommended vaccines overlapped between South America and Asia.  These included the Hepatitis A and B series, typhoid, and Japanese encephalitis.  We decided to go with all of the recommended vaccines because (1) we could afford it (2) mosquitoes love Akiko and many of the disease are mosquito-borne, and (3) the potential consequences of some of the diseases are severe.

Pills were recommended for malaria, altitude sickness, and antibiotics for traveler’s diarrhea.   None of the malaria pill options were ideal due to side effects and/or cost, but while we were mulling it over, we discovered that the newest medication, Malarone, was now available in generic form, reducing our out-of-pocket cost substantially.  Yellow Fever ended up being the only required vaccine for visa purposes.

Step 8: Research if medical insurance and prescription plans will cover part of the cost.  Depending on your existing health insurance and prescription plan, you may be able to get part of the cost covered.  We found we could update our routine vaccines (e.g. influenza, pneumococcal, chickenpox or varicella, polio, MMR, Td or Tdap, etc.) through our primary care physician for the copay cost.   We had our doctor re-write the prescriptions written by the travel immunization clinic so that our prescription plan would cover most of the cost.

Step 9: Map out a schedule on when immunizations need to be completed.  This will also help spread out the cost of some of the immunizations.   After all was said and done, all the prophylaxis cost upwards of $1,300 per person.

Step 10: Start somewhere.  Go get immunized and/or fill the prescriptions! 

Travel has always been their hobby, but recently, Mike Watkins and Akiko Kubo decided to “cash-in” on their dreams of taking a career break to travel around the globe after seeing close friends’ and family’s lives end too soon.  To avoid wondering what might have been, they are downsizing their comfortable lives into a backpack, and making way for opportunities undiscovered.  Follow their 8-month, round-the-world, adventures  on or on Facebook.

Career Break Guide Table of Contents

Meet Plan Go