Last year, I went to Africa for three weeks. Since it was my first time to the continent, I knew I needed to do some research on common travel vaccines and other health related topics. Although some may be against vaccinations, I feel its best to do your research and talk with a physician to find out what is right for you. I find the the Centers for Disease Control CDC are the best for current information on the Traveler’s Health Page . On the health page, I chose what countries I was visiting . I had the opportunity to check some boxes under the what type of traveler I was, but none were relative to me.
Visiting my primary physician
I was up for my health check so I brought my itinerary for my doctor to review as well as the printouts from the CDC. I knew I would need hepatitis A and B in addition to a yellow fever vaccine. Since I was born prior to 1982 in the US, the hepatitis B was not given to infants like today. Also, I could not find my childhood records so they needed to do some blood titer tests to check what vaccines I had in my system. I am so glad I did the titer tests as the results verified that the potency of many of the vaccines I had as a child were not up to par. I would highly recommend getting blood titers done if it has been a while since your last vaccinations and/or your doctor recommends it.
My doctor told me they could help with the hepatitis A and B vaccines , but I would have to go to a travel clinic to get the yellow fever vaccine. Knowing this now, I would have called the travel clinic first before going to my primary doctor for travel vaccine needs. Travel clinics will have the needed vaccines and be more current on travel specific health needs. Where I live, the three main hospital systems: Cleveland Clinic, Metro, and University Hospitals all have travel clinics, but so does the Cuyahoga County Board of Health. Check the county you live in as the county board of health will most likely be the cheaper option.
Travel Clinic Visit
When I went to the travel clinic, they had me fill out a form and they asked me to bring in my itenerary. The doctor reviewed all of the information, and I received vaccinations for Hep A, Hep B, and yellow fever. I also was given a prescription for malaria medication due to my travels in Zimbabwe, Botswana, and parts of South Africa. I was instructed to get a DEET bug spray as well. The bug spray suggested was Repel DEET Bug Spray. The yellow fever vaccine is currently good for life. I needed to go in more than once for the hepatitis vaccines to be fully functional. I started going five months before my trip and I was able to get two out of three of my hep a and b vaccines. I received the last dose once I arrived back home. According to my doctor, having the two boosters would be sufficient.
I am glad I scheduled my vaccines in time so I had one less thing to worry about on my travels. I scheduled my last booster when I came back home and now I am good for the next 25 years for the hepatitis booster. What is your experience with travel vaccines? Are you for them or against them?