Travel Vaccines/Immunizations?

Travel Forums General Talk Travel Vaccines/Immunizations?

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1. Posted by RobmanB (Budding Member 12 posts) 14w Star this if you like it!

Hey there! This might be a bit of a hot topic but I'm looking for some input.

I'll be traveling to the Central/South America region for the next 6 months or so, and then continuing on elsewhere (tbd) for another 6 months after that. What vaccines/immunizations do people typically view as necessary when traveling to this region longterm? Are there others that may be more optional?

My typical stand on vaccines is that I don't really like them. I have gotten the standard vaccines as a child but haven't gotten any since. I don't get a flu-shot or anything like that. That being said, I'd feel naive if I didn't get some additional input on the subject before setting off on a year-long trip.

Can anyone attest to traveling longterm without getting any vaccines and still being fine? Obviously, one person being fine doesn't mean that someone else will have the same result, but it's nice to hear about real-life stories either way.

Any input is appreciated!

2. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 1907 posts) 14w Star this if you like it!

You would be a fool not to take every immunisation you can get when travelling.

We're rich privileged people. Many of the people you're travelling among cannot afford this protection and they suffer or die from preventable diseases.

You want to join them out of a trendy desire to shun medical science?

3. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 1193 posts) 14w Star this if you like it!

>Can anyone attest to traveling longterm without getting any vaccines and still being fine?

You say yourself that one person's experience has no relevance for anyone else, so why even ask that question? Every individual immune system is different and each individual responds differently to infections.

I agree with Andy.

You would be extremely foolish to travel without the recommended vaccinations/boosters for the relevant location/s. As Andy says, many of the people you'll be travelling amongst are unable to access vaccines and suffer in consequence. Measles, polio, diptheria and tetanus are killers and even relatively minor 'childhood' diseases such as chickenpox are much more severe in adulthood, causing complications which can kill.

Add to that the potential costs of medical treatment and, worst-case scenario, repatriation and I fail to understand why anyone would consider travelling without the recommended vaccinations.

If you're dubious about your own country's advice about what vaccines are necessary for a specific location you might like to compare it with the official UK country-specific advice:

https://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/a-z-index

[ Edit: Edited on 17-Dec-2019, 08:16 GMT by leics2 ]

4. Posted by Traveller002 (Budding Member 38 posts) 14w Star this if you like it!

If that particular country is experiencing a difficult time with some epidemic, of course the best vaccination would be to avoid travel. For example, 2003 SARS period. But if this can't be done, then seek advise with your local doctor and foreign affairs ministry on the vaccination that they would recommend. I have been visiting countries during bouts of influenza strains such as H1N5, MERS etc. But if its going to be that of SARS or Ebola epidemic level, its definitely a no-go in my book.

I did not purposely avoid consuming poultry or pork, and neither did I specifically go for any vaccination. I simply did the usual of observing good personal hygiene, and having a surgical mask, or if your instincts say so, a N95. I do avoid going to the local market during this difficult time due to questionable sanitary and hygiene practices.

Do take note of your own fitness level. If you have flu-like symptoms when already at that country, it is best to not put yourself at risk by continuing to explore the city. Stay in your accommodation and have a good rest, drink loads of water and maybe have paracetamol on standby. If you are someone who easily succumb to minor flu, it may be your best interest to be vaccinated before travelling.

[ Edit: Edited on 17-Dec-2019, 08:22 GMT by Traveller002 ]

5. Posted by Traveller002 (Budding Member 38 posts) 14w Star this if you like it!

To add on, I'm not too sure on Central / South America, but in the lesser fortunate Asian countries, Tuberculosis is very real and widespread. If you do contract this, it can be incurable if you are TB drug resistant (something that you may not be aware of). Whether it is latent or active, can be fatal.

You are probably vaccinated against it as a child, but do check again if the vaccinations you have are still active now that you are an adult. Vaccination has an expiry date too.

6. Posted by berner256 (Moderator 1287 posts) 14w Star this if you like it!

This Web site also is informative: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2020/preparing-international-travelers/yellow-fever-vaccine-and-malaria-prophylaxis-information-by-country

I have been required to show proof of yellow fever vaccination while entering -- and traveling in -- certain countries, particularly those in Africa.

My physician keeps my vaccination record and reminds me when I need a shot. Since I volunteer at a hospital while not traveling, I'm required to have a flu shot annually; and until this year, tested for TB.

In my experience, if you're traveling in Central and South America (and elsewhere) you will be bitten by insects. Besides being vaccinated and taking a prophylatic against malaria in areas that have it you also should protect your body as best you can from bites. This particularly applies at dawn and dusk, when mosquitos are most active; and in shaded places.

Even if you take precautions you can become ill. A fellow traveler had been taking doxycycline for malaria still came down with it. He refused to believe he was ill until he collapsed and had to be taken to a hospital where he was diagnosed with malaria.

It's also important to have travel insurance for medical emergencies and repatriation.

Sometimes we don't like what we have to do. If you consider health and safety to be your No. 1 priority while traveling, as I do, then by all means protect yourself.

7. Posted by ToonSarah (Travel Guru 1108 posts) 14w Star this if you like it!

Personally I wouldn't dream of travelling anywhere without having the recommended vaccinations and if necessary taking a prophylatic against malaria. Much better the minor inconvenience and costs of that than the risk of catching a potentially fatal, or at best unpleasant, disease. If I weren't willing to do that I would avoid travel to such regions.

8. Posted by Teoni (Travel Guru 877 posts) 14w Star this if you like it!

As someone who has been severly ill twice on trips I say if there is a way to prevent an illness take it. There is nothing worst than after spending all that time, effort and money to find yourself unable to experience the place you travelled to. On top of that you are travelling to places with varied conditions of medical care some of them very basic and I do think it is selfish for travellers to burden local medical services (especially if they are basic) because they refuse to take general percautions. In saying that I do realise that advice on vaccines for travelling can be very conflicting even from official sources. I think the best thing to do is gather all the information so you can make the most informed decision regarding which vaccines you need.

9. Posted by greatgrandmaR (Travel Guru 1494 posts) 14w Star this if you like it!

In some countries you will not be allowed to enter unless you have proof of yellow fever vaccination. So unless you plan your trip carefully so as not to visit countries with endemic yellow fever like Panama prior to the countries which require the yellow fever vaccination, you risk not only yellow fever, but also having your trip disrupted.

The fact that you have had no vaccines recently means that you will need quite some time to catch up as you can't just take a whole bunch of them at once. At a minimum you should have tetanus and not just for travel - just for living.

10. Posted by RobmanB (Budding Member 12 posts) 14w Star this if you like it!

Thanks for the input. This is basically what I figured. I'll be going to the doctor to get their opinion on necessary vaccinations. I guess it's more of a touchy subject for me than most people, so I just wanted to get some other opinions.

Cheers!