Inoculations against the nasties

Since we have been brought up in a specific part of the world, we only have immunity to the diseases found in our area. Other countries in the world have different diseases that a foreigner could easily contract. It is best to learn how to minimise the risks and get vaccinated for the areas you are travelling through.

After you have decided where you will be travelling, book an appointment with a local travel nurse. A travel nurse will be able to tell you which vaccinations and medications you will need depending on which regions you are planning to visit. It’s a good idea to do this well in advance as certain vaccinations must be given several months before entering the affected area. Also be sure to obtain your vaccination record, as many countries may turn you away at the border if you cannot prove you have received the correct vaccinations. The nurse will also give you suggestions on how to stay healthy, what to eat, where not to go, and what to do if you do get sick. In the realm of travel medicine and vaccinations I am a believer of, “If you think that you may need it, but are not sure if it is necessary, spend the extra money and take it.” Your travel route may change for some reason or you may be exposed to someone who has been in an infected area. Being sick in a foreign country with questionable medical facilities is not most backpacker’s idea of a good time.

If you are on medication, make sure you take enough medicine for the entire trip. Also, have all the contents clearly documented by a doctor – the name of the medicine and dosage as some checkpoints or border guards may be a little suspicious at the contents.

Note: make sure that you know what drug allergies you have. Hospitals in different countries use different types of drugs. Make sure you know what you can and can’t take and make sure that you communicate this to the doctor should the occasion arise. Noting this information on a card in your wallet (translated into a couple of different languages) or wearing a “Medic Alert” bracelet could help you if you’re ever in trouble.