About the Vaccines
Hepatitis A - This viral disease of the liver is a traveler’s number one health threat. It can survive on a dried surface for twelve days and can live on a person’s hands for up to four hours. It is a food and water borne disease that is transmitted through the fecal-oral route (usually passed by persons who use the bathroom and don’t wash their hands). Hepatitis A occurs worldwide, and we now routinely vaccinate children against Hepatitis A in the USA. Highest rates of Hepatitis A occur in the Caribbean, Mexico, Asia, Africa, India, Central and South America and Southern and Eastern Europe.
Hepatitis B – An infection of the liver spread by contact with blood and other body fluids. It is recommended for healthcare workers, persons traveling to moderate or high-risk countries, persons participating in adventure traveling, persons who may have unprotected sex, and persons who may use intravenous drugs.
Twinrix - This is a vaccine that combines the Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B vaccines. The benefit of this vaccine is that you receive protection against both diseases in three, rather than five separate shots.
Polio – This is a food and water borne disease that can produce paralysis. Although persons are routinely vaccinated as children, the protective benefit of the vaccine only lasts until about age 18. Outbreaks are highest in Africa, India, and the Middle East.
Typhoid Fever – This is a bacterial infection spread through contaminated food and water. It is especially a concern in areas with substandard sanitation. This vaccine is suggested for persons traveling for longer stays, or persons traveling in small cities, towns and rural areas off the usual tourist itineraries.
Yellow Fever – Carried by mosquitoes, this viral infection can cause hemorrhage fever. It occurs in Africa and South America. Proof of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain countries and for persons who have traveled through yellow fever endemic countries.
Rabies – This disease affects the lining of the brain and is transmitted through scratches and bites from dogs, cats, bats, raccoons, skunks, and foxes. It is endemic in Africa, India, Asia, and Latin America. If not treated, the disease is always fatal. Pre-exposure vaccine should be considered for persons working with animals, travelers who will be more than three hours away from medical care, children who will be playing outdoors, persons doing extensive traveling in rural areas and persons with extended stays in endemic areas.
Tetanus/Diptheria/Pertussis – This organism is found in the soil and enters the body through cuts or wounds. It affects the nervous system and can cause severe spasm of the jaw and other muscles. It is common worldwide. A booster should be given every ten years.
Meningitis – A serious bacterial infection that affects the lining of the brain. It is transmitted by exposure to respiratory secretions (persons who may cough or sneeze, or from eating with utensils which may not have been cleaned properly). The vaccine is recommended for persons who live in close contact with others (dorms, military barracks), persons traveling to the “meningitis belt” (area of sub-Saharan Africa from Senegal eastward through Ethiopia) from December through June, and persons who travel to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj).
Measles – This vaccine is recommended for persons born after 1956 who have not received two doses of MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) after their first birthday.
Japanese Encephalitis – This mosquito borne disease is a risk to persons traveling to agricultural areas in India or Southeast Asia for four weeks or more. Although it is relatively uncommon, it is potentially fatal.
Varicella – Also known as chicken pox, this vaccine is recommended for anyone who has not had the disease.
Influenza – Protection against the flu. Vaccine is usually administered from September through February. All persons can benefit from flu vaccination.