Straight, No Chaser: Spotlight on Health Concerns When Traveling – Vaccines and Illnesses

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Traveling is exciting, but it presents multiple challenges to your health. To best meet these challenges, preparation is everything.

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Before you travel and every time you travel, your surest means of protecting yourself is to confirm you are current on routine vaccines.

  • Your basic vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine and influenza.
  • Most international travelers will need immunizations to protect you from hepatitis A, polio, and typhoid.
  • Depending on where you’re international travels take you and the duration of your trip, you may need immunizations to protect you from hepatitis B, malaria, rabies and/or yellow fever.

The plane trip itself can be hazardous to your health. I encourage you to review the risks of flying.

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Diseases have different patterns in how they spread and their resistance to medications in different countries. It is important to be aware of prominent diseases affecting the countries you plan to visit, because some may be uncommon in your home country. For Americans traveling abroad, such diseases include the following:

  • HIV/AIDS 
  • Malaria: an infectious disease caused by a parasite, which invades the blood cells. It is notable for the presence of high fever, shaking chills, low blood count and a flu-like set of symptoms.
  • Pandemic/avian flu (aka as the bird flu): an infectious disease in birds caused by a virus that can spread to humans
  • Travelers’ diarrhea –  the most common disease acquired by travelers.
  • Tuberculosis: an infectious disease involving the lungs, able to spread throughout the body

I strongly recommend that you develop a habit of checking the CDC travel site every time you prepare to travel internationally, including those of you coming from abroad into the United States. Detailed information on these diseases is available clicking the links, checking the search engine and at http://www.sterlingmedicaladvice.com.

Feel free to contact your SMA expert consultant with any questions you have on this topic.

Feel free to ask your SMA expert consultant any questions you may have on this topic.

Order your copy of Dr. Sterling’s new book Behind The Curtain: A Peek at Life from within the ER at jeffreysterlingbooks.com, iTunes, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and wherever books are sold.

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3 Comments

Filed under General Health and Wellness, Health Prevention

3 responses to “Straight, No Chaser: Spotlight on Health Concerns When Traveling – Vaccines and Illnesses

  1. rougedmount

    Not only do you need to consider vaccinations when you travel, you need to be aware that when you visit other countries for vacations, that you are entering one of the 40 poorest countries in the world, where the residents do not have access to the same medical care, education about how disease is spread and protection against transmissions that we have in first world countries.
    So not only are you being exposed to local illnesses and risks associated with international travel, but those from the thousands of other guests, from a wide variety of countries who are joining you in destination.
    Bringing Over The Counter (OTC) medication for minor ailments is critical because most of these countries have limited importing, which results in a highly inflated cost of something you can purchase from your home pharmacy. Paying $45usd for an anti diarrheal, is not money well spent.
    The other thing which is an ABSOLUTE must have, even though it is always presented as an option, besides vaccinations and otc medications, is Travel Insurance. The cost of medical care in a foreign country can be overwhelming. Often times, you may not even be treated until you pay, other than receiving the minimum required palliative care. Can you financially afford the expense of an air ambulance from your vacation destination to your country of residence? Do you even know what that cost is, so you can make an educated decision?
    Many people shy away from discussing Travel Insurance because everybody hates Insurance, resent the expense, assume the risk that they won’t need to use it or mistakenly think they have coverage through their credit cards or work, without knowing the actual coverage’s. Travel Insurance is something people do not want to buy or to have, until they need it or have to use it, and then they are converts and want to educate people as to why it is necessary.
    Not everyone is going to be successful in raising $150 thousand dollars in a go-fund me campaign, or the $25,000 cost of repatriation of a deceased loved one.
    If you aren’t vaccinated and do not have travel insurance, then you are taking a massive and unnecessary, very real risk to not just your health, but you are being financially irresponsible to your family in expecting them to pay for your illness, which you could have prevented or paid for by having insurance!
    Educate yourself. Travel safe. Travel smart. Get your shots.

    • Thank you rougedmount; excellent comments. Have you personally ever used travel insurance? I’ve only heard horror stories related to the fine print.

      • rougedmount

        The fine print is exactly where all the information is and people not reading it, is like purchasing a car, sight unseen with zero details and just a price. Who would do that? No-one. So why do it with an insurance you are relying on to protect you in case of a horrible mishap. Insurance companies do not hide anything. In fact, they pay out in 98% of their claims inside of 6 weeks. What you can NOT do with Travel Insurance is commit fraud. If people lied or omitted information in order to obtain the insurance, then it will be discovered on investigation and claims will be denied, as they should be. The insurance company can not force people to read the fine print but they employ many people who can explain details to individuals, as long as they make that call. Horror stories are by people who did not educate themselves on the product they were purchasing, after being given the information. That is simple negligence by the consumer and has nothing to do with the Insurance company.
        But the bleeding hearts who want to stick it to the big company in favor of the poor individual, create such a mass of media storm against the companies, that many times they pay or adjust bills and then increase the premiums in order to cover the expense, so in reality, the public is paying for those individuals, not the company.
        Have I used Travel Insurance? I can not imagine traveling without it! I’ve seen far too many catastrophic injuries, seen families lose an ill family member while in an exotic location and then struggle with how to get the body home and how to pay for it.
        Most Canadians aren’t even aware that their provincial healthcare will not cover many things when they cross into new Provinces and you lose about 80% of coverage when you go to the USA. And with record numbers of travelers, that means the risk of injury is exponentially higher.
        In fact, for many years I traveled extensively and had no idea about Travel Insurance. I learned when I had a very, very, near miss and was scared about thee what if’s of what could have happened, and it made me ill at my ignorance. So I educated myself. The more I learned, the more I understood how immature I had been to ‘assume’ I would be cared for. I learned that without Insurance “I” pay the bills, not my healthcare provider. And I learned the actual costs of those procedures, so that I knew the value of what I was purchasing, in the event I had to use it.
        There is coverage out there for every budget and people can pick and choose what they want, the less you pay, the less coverage you have. It’s pretty standard when it comes to the service industry.
        The Fine Print, matters. So does educating yourself.