What Vaccinations Do I Need for Foreign Travel?

What Vaccinations Do I Need for Foreign Travel?

Vaccinations and Foreign Travel

One question that has been asked, in light of the recent measles outbreak that we are seeing here in the United States lately, is what vaccinations are important to take if you are planning to travel abroad. This question is becoming more complicated as travel is becoming more exotic. So the most important factor in deciding which vaccines are necessary is where you are traveling to. For this, the CDC website on foreign travel is an excellent resource.

Another excellent resource is to see if there is a reputable travel medicine specialist in your area. If you decided to go this route, please make sure to see whether or not they take insurance, or do they work on a cash-only basis. This information should be readily available so that you have a good idea of what your out-of-pocket expenses should be.

One area of immunity I would like to address involves older patients traveling and previous immunizations. The ones I am most concerned with are childhood immunizations. For older patients you most likely were exposed to childhood illnesses such as measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox.

The concern here, depending on your age, is that there is a chance your immunity to these diseases may have worn off with time. Confirmation of whether or not you have immunity can be achieved through simple blood tests done at your primary care’s office, and if necessary, boosters can be given.

Another area of concern is patients who are receiving immunosuppressant therapy – any varieties of illnesses, be it cancer therapy or therapy for a particular autoimmune disease. Regardless of the illness, your immune system is compromised, which can put you at risk of contracting an illness abroad.

Recently I was involved in treating a patient with inflammatory bowel disease who was on immunosuppressant therapy.

This patient developed a chronic sinus infection with an opportunistic infection. The risk factor in this particular case was a trip to a cave inhabited by bats. Bat guano is notorious for cultivating fungus and opportunistic bacteria that may be benign to normal hosts, but devastating to those who are immunosuppressed.

I believe that these are important concepts for people who wish to travel abroad, but have medical conditions that may warrant additional protection. The last thing you need is to be exposed to a childhood illness that you have lost immunity to, because the complication rate of these childhood illnesses are much greater in older patients – including death.  

You don’t want to return from a vacation and now have to be treated for an opportunistic infection that may affect the therapy of your original disease. As always, the more information and education you have on your health, the more you can avoid risks associated with traveling abroad.

Join My E-Newsletter!

Receive the latest blog posts & take back your health!
SUBSCRIBE NOW
By | 2019-04-04T17:15:58+00:00 April 4th, 2019|Infectious Disease|

About the Author:

I am a passionate blogger, author, speaker and 3X Board Certified MD in Infectious Disease, Internal & Sleep Medicine. I currently am an infectious disease physician in Atlanta, GA for Infectious Disease Consultants.

2 Comments

  1. Susan July 17, 2019 at 10:04 pm - Reply

    What about those of us who have an immunodeficiency and are Immunoglobuline therapy? Are we covered by the antibodies we receive in the IG? Depending on the area we visit, are there non live vaccines we should receive? Or are there places we just should avoid?

    • Andrew Pugliese MD July 18, 2019 at 2:45 pm - Reply

      Hey Susan, great question…depending on the underlying immunodeficiency and where you are traveling it would be prudent to have an evaluation from a travel medicine expert or at least an immunologist.

Leave A Comment

WAIT! DON’T MISS OUT!
Subscribe To Newsletter
Be the first to get latest blog posts & take back your health!
Stay Updated
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.
close-link

Join My E-Newsletter!

Receive the latest blog posts & take back your health!
SUBSCRIBE NOW
close-link
If You Enjoyed This Post
Join My Newsletter
Subscribe
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.
Close
Sign up and receive the latest blog posts & take back your health!
Subscribe
Subscribe
close-image