Do you need vaccinations to travel?

“What sort of vaccinations did you get before your trip,” people often ask?

The simple answer is “I don’t know.”

Like so many of us, I had the standard vaccinations when I was a baby.

I couldn’t tell you what they were; but, somewhere at home, I’ve got a little card with illegible doctor’s handwriting detailing what was done.

The reality is, for most places on earth, that’s more than enough.

 

Some of my earliest immunizations
Some of my earliest immunizations

What Travel Vaccinations do I Have?

Before heading to Nicaragua a decade ago, I started the vaccination process.

Then, I got lazy and stopped.

A Nicaraguan hospital employee prepares a Rubeola injection for local children.
A Nicaraguan hospital employee prepares a Rubeola injection for local children.

I think I’m about 1/3 through the Rabies vaccine; and I might have gotten one for Hepatitis.

In the years since, I have visited dozens of countries with no problem.

Sure, I’ve had to visit the ER a few times; but never because of a lack of a shot.

 

. . .

 

What does the CDC Say?

It’s a safe bet the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would disagree with my lackadaisical approach to travel vaccines.

It usually suggests Hepatitis A and Typhoid immunizations; and some countries actually require proof of a Yellow Fever vaccine to enter.

Rabies is also a popular recommendation; though, it’s pretty painful and easy to get abroad; unless you’re traveling in a remote area.

 

Photo by Justin Ide/Harvard News Office; originally used on Global Biodefense
Photo by Justin Ide/Harvard News Office; originally used on Global Biodefense

So, should you vaccinate or not?

In the end, this is a decision you will have to make on your own.

My personal beliefs steer me away from vaccinations and hospitals; but, I know this way of travel and life is not for everyone.

Above all else, do your research, know what vaccinations are required before you leave and make an educated decision.

 

To help decide what you need before leaving home,
I highly recommend using the Travel Vaccination Guide

southamerica-screen-shots