Get vaccinated before heading overseas.

If you’re planning a summer vacation abroad, you probably have a long checklist of items to take care of before you leave. But amidst shopping, packing, and creating an itinerary, it’s also important to get vaccinated before heading overseasRead on to learn more about why getting your shots before traveling to a foreign country is critical for your health.

Don't forget your Booster Shots

Diseases that are eradicated in the United States may be common in other parts of the world. While polio and measles don’t affect Americans, these vaccine-preventable diseases are still common in other parts of the world. Having any necessary booster shots before you go can help ensure that you have the antibodies to ward off any illnesses you may be exposed to in another country.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), since measles was officially declared eradicated in the U.S. in 2000, there have been 668 people diagnosed with the disease. Most of these cases were traced to unvaccinated travelers. The CDC recommends that all teens and adults who do not demonstrate immunity receive the MMR vaccine before going abroad.

Getting the recommended vaccines is the only way to protect yourself from contracting a serious and potential fatal illness while overseas. The CDC has an online tool that tells you what vaccines you need depending on where you’re traveling and certain other criteria, including age, health status, type of travel, purpose for travel, and additional factors. The site also has travel health notices that indicate destinations for which additional disease precaution is currently recommended. You can access these resources at travel.

Most commonly, international travelers must get an MMR booster, shots protecting against tetanus/diphtheria and yellow fever if you haven’t had these vaccine within 10 years, and a polio vaccine if you are not immune. While these are the required immunizations, your doctor may also recommend that you be vaccinated against hepatitis B, rabies, hepatitis A, and typhoid. And while there’s no vaccine for malaria, the CDC recommends that travelers to Central or South America, Africa, parts of Asia, or the South Pacific take a preventive drug regimen.

To make sure you can get all your shots, it’s important to plan ahead. Gathering your vaccine records and making the necessary appointments can take time. In addition, if the vaccines you need for the country to which you’re traveling aren’t available in your local area, you may need to visit a special travel clinic. Some shots, including the vaccination for yellow fever, can be given only by a certified provider and documentation of this vaccine is necessary to enter your destination. Allow at least 4 to 6 weeks before your travel date to make sure your immunizations are up to date.

While you may not be keen to add another item to your travel to-do list, getting the recommended vaccines can save you from an unpleasant illness and the impact of the resulting treatment – not to mention ensure that you have a happy, healthy, and safe vacation.

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