HEALTH CENTER

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International Travel Preparation by Alison Sims M.D.

Board Certification: Internal Medicine

THE PRE-TRAVEL CONSULTATION
 
People of all ages will travel far and wide for many reasons without any hesitation.  Some of the reasons for international travel include: traveling for work, vacations, revisiting family in one’s country of origin, and even for medical procedures abroad.  Travel planning always requires a laundry list of things to do, and yet only a small percentage of people review their health and medical preparation with the same care as they do when packing their suitcases.  I hope that these recommendations will both help everyone to protect themselves and their families from preventable travel illnesses, and also to prevent major medical mishaps from interrupting long-anticipated trips.

THE PROPER TIME TO SEE YOUR DOCTOR

A pre-travel consultation should be at least 4 weeks before the date of departure.  If you are not a seasoned traveler and you know you need vaccines, be sure to allow at least 4 weeks of time for the vaccinations to stimulate your body’s blood cells to boost your protective antibodies to effective levels.  If you need a series of booster injections, you may require 6 to 8 weeks of preparation time.

3 THINGS TO BRING TO YOUR OFFICE VISIT

To be sure that you will receive the vaccinations and medications needed, carefully prepare and bring these 3 documents to your doctor: your vaccination and health records, your itinerary in detail, and a list of other medications you will need.

VACCINATION AND HEALTH RECORDS

You must bring a complete record of vaccinations with dates and doses for each person who is traveling.  Prepare a medical history for each person including their allergies and medication lists.  Be careful to note any health states that may be more of a risk such as pregnancy, breastfeeding, weakened immune systems, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, very young children or infants, and travelers over 60 years old.

ITINERARY FOR YOUR TRIP

Be very specific about your itinerary (the what, where, and when) of your trip.  Outline the dates for each region and planned activities.  View the Traveler’s Health page on the Center for Disease Control website, www.cdc.gov.  Find your destination(s) and print out the travel health recommendations specific to your locale(s).  Additionally, print out a Malaria map for your travel destination if applicable.  This site will provide explanations of the vaccines recommended for your destination and a list of the current outbreaks in the area.  You may address any questions or concerns about these items with your doctor.

MEDICATION REQUEST LIST

Make a list of the medications you wish to have for prevention of illnesses and conditions specific to your travel activities.  Examples include: altitude sickness hiking in extreme conditions, insomnia in unfamiliar places, flight anxiety, motion sickness on boats, traveler’s diarrhea, skin infections from insect bites and accidental wounds, respiratory infections, bladder infections from sitting on long flights, and “as needed” medications such as Epi Pens for bee sting allergies, and albuterol inhalers for acute asthmatic attacks from unusual weather or pollution.

PREVENTIVE MEASURES

Be sure to print out and review carefully the Travel Health Kit page as outlined on the CDC website.  It includes education on how to effectively prevent insect-borne diseases, foodborne and waterborne illnesses.  It is much better to avoid contracting a disease or illness such as malaria or cholera than it is to treat it.  It also includes recommendations for over-the-counter medications such as sunscreen and antihistamines to prevent or self-treat simple problems such as sunburn and mild allergic reactions.

VACCINATIONS FOR CONSIDERATION IN PRE-TRAVEL CONSULTATION

Vaccinations are divided on the CDC site into 3 categories: Routine, Recommended, and Required.  Please see the last page for a copy of the list as it appears on the CDC website.

DOCUMENTATION AND WRITTEN RECORDS

It is always recommended that you keep a copy of all of your important health records, vaccinations, medication lists, allergies, and both physician contact numbers and family contact numbers with you at all times during your travels in case of an emergency.

Be safe, and enjoy your trip!

Dr. Alison Sims

 

VACCINATIONS FOR CONSIDERATION IN PRE-TRAVEL CONSULTATION

Vaccinations are divided on the CDC site into 3 categories: Routine, Recommended, and Required.

Routine vaccinations are given according to the age and risk factors of the patient regardless of travel plans, and should be updated as necessary before travel.  These include:

Diptheria

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis B

Hemophilus influenza type b (Hib)

Herpes zoster (shingles)

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

Influenza

Measles (rubeola)

Meningococcal

Mumps

Pertussis

Pneumococcal

Polio

Rotavirus

Rubella

Tetanus

Varicella (chickenpox)

Recommended travel-related vaccines are specific to your destination. The most commonly requested vaccines for travel are:

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis B

Japanese Encephalitis

Meningococcal

Polio

Typhoid Fever

Yellow Fever

Required vaccines are country-specific and can change at any time. You must check on the CDC website for your destination’s requirements.  Some common ones:

Yellow Fever

Meningococcal

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.