Importance of Vaccines for Travel

Look, I’m no fan of needles. Needles stink and getting a vaccine hurts but not getting the right vaccines before you travel will hurt a lot more. Parasites, malaria, typhoid fever, cholera… these are diseases that can reek havoc on your health, both in the short and long term, and even cause death. Travel vaccines help prevent this type of misery.

Sickness and death is not something you want to deal with while you’re traveling and having a good time. So, if you’re heading out of the country, it’s a great idea to check with your doctor to learn about any vaccines you may need before you leave.  And you’ll need to make sure you do it in advance because vaccines can take as long as 4-6 weeks to take full effect and some involve a series of shots.

It’s also very important to get the correct vaccines which is dependent on the country you are visiting. You’re doctor should be able to tell you exactly which vaccines you need. You can also go to a Passport/Travel Medicine Clinic and the staff will be extremely knowledgeable about this topic. For our upcoming trip to Ecuador, Alfred and I went to our local Passport Medicine Clinic and they took care of everything. We were able to get all the necessary vaccines, medicines, and sprays we needed.

I know many people are hesitant when it comes to vaccines. Some people just really hate needles and might decide to risk it. That’s not a good idea. Why risk it when you can prevent it? Others, unfortunately, believe vaccines are more dangerous then the diseases they’re intended to prevent. Well, the science behind that is pretty definitive.

There are a number of reasons you should make sure you are vaccinated before and take any medications necessary during travel.

Personal Health

Would you throw yourself in front of a speeding bus just because the bus driver might swerve and miss you? I assume the answer to that is no. It’s the same concept with vaccines. Yes, they’re costly. Yes, they hurt. But contracting some sort of disease in another country is even more costly. When I was 14, I contracted Malaria in Mexico. It was not a fun situation. I nearly died and there is a week or so of my life that I can’t remember. If I had been on anti-malarial medication (which is part of the whole vaccine deal), I would have been fine. Trust me, you don’t want to get any of these diseases.

Health of Others

Sometimes it is important to understand that we, basically, live in herds…really big herds. The health of one or a few can really have an effect on the overall health of the entire group. Vaccines are a way to ensure that really nasty diseases don’t spread to the rest of our society. For me, this is a pretty important concept because I am a utilitarian at heart. I always bear in mind that vaccinations are my way of ensuring the overall health of my herd.

Required

Not all countries require vaccines for entry. In fact, the US doesn’t require its citizens to be vaccinated in order to re-enter the country. However, many countries do require vaccines for entry. If you arrive to a country requiring vaccines and have not been vaccinated, you may be turned away and denied entry. That would stink.

While vaccinations can be painful and inconvenient, there are plenty of reasons to get them. The benefits definitely outweigh the negative in these situations. Failure to get vaccinated could result in extreme sickness or even death.  Let’s avoid that by doing our part.

J Harvey

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Importance of Vaccines for Travel.

J. Harvey

J Harvey is a travel writer based in North Carolina. With two masters degrees, he decided to forget working a normal 9-5 job and instead create a travel blog focusing on travel for a more inclusive community. He hopes to increase LGBT representation within the travel industry while inspiring others to travel in whatever capacity.

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