Saturday, November 5, 2011

9 Steps to Knowing the Required and Recommended Travel Immunizations and Pills

Another major item on our 6-month to-do list was figuring out the necessary travel immunizations.  6 months ahead seems like a long time, but with over 20 countries we plan on visiting, there are bound to be immunizations that are required, or at least highly recommended – some vaccination series requiring at least a 6-month head start such as the hepatitis series. 

If we were 20-something backpackers, would we even care about vaccines?  Maybe, maybe not.  We certainly wouldn’t be as cautious about the possibility of acquiring a number of deadly diseases abroad, had we been 20 years younger!  Alas, the wisdom (or paranoia) that comes with age.  One main reason for taking extra precautions is Akiko’s tendency to attract mosquitos no matter where in the world, and her tendency to have allergic reactions to their bites.  Many of these diseases abroad are carried by mosquitos.  If any of them could be prevented by a few shots or pills, it seems a worthwhile endeavor.   

There are a couple of vaccinations that are required for entry into certain countries or to obtain a visa.  However, most of the time, the choice to be vaccinated is ultimately up to you.  Our advice is to at least research what is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and even make an appointment with a Travel Immunization specialist for a consultation so you can make an educated decision by weighing the pros and cons.  The major ‘con’ being cost, of course, and specifically for malaria – the side effects of some of the drugs. 

The following outlines the steps that we took to research the immunizations for our upcoming travel sabbatical.