Getting the correct vaccinations for your travels can eat up a lot of time and money. There are so many immunization recommendations for travel and there is no cost graver than contracting a disease in the midst of your travels.
Choosing which vaccinations to receive ultimately depends on your frame of mind. I am a hypochondriac and once was convinced there were bugs inside my brain while backpacking Thailand because of this article. If you like to live life more on the edge you may not feel the need to get any vaccines before your trip.
For my first RTW trip, I did not bother to get vaccinated and thankfully came back just fine. Before leaving to travel indefinitely, I decided to get new and update myself with all previous vaccines. My insurance covers me for all major immunizations travel-related or not so I would rather be safe than sorry. I recently got shot up with Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Tdap, Meningococcal, and Rabies.
If you are a US citizen and have health insurance then under the new Affordable Care Act you are eligible to receive the following immunizations without having to pay any deductibles, co-pays, or coinsurance.
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Herpes Zoster
- Quadrivalent Human Papillomavirus vaccine for females
- Measles, Mumps, Rubella
- Varicella (Chicken Pox)
Below is information about the vaccines that I chose to get and why I chose to get them. Again, vaccinating yourself is a personal choice, these are just immunization recommendations for travel from a wanderer (me). Always check with your insurance provider to ensure you are covered and make sure that you give yourself ample time to complete the series of certain vaccines.
Immunization Recommendations for Travel
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a virus that is spread through mosquito bites found in certain parts of South America and Africa. If you are going to be traveling through remote areas, and parts of the Amazon then this vaccine is highly recommended. Some countries such as Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, and Ghana will not even let you in without a yellow piece of paper that proves you have had the vaccine. This vaccine is costly and most insurances do not cover it. You will likely need to go to a specialized travel or immunization clinic to receive it. However, it is a one time shot and is good for 10 years. Since we were traveling Africa for a year we decided to get this vaccine but got it when we landed in South Africa to save on costs (like $750 extra of costs).
Typhoid fever is transmitted through contaminated food and water found in developing countries. If you are going to be traveling through parts of Asia, Africa, and South America then this vaccine is recommended. Thankfully I was covered for this vaccine and decided to get it because we would be spending extensive amounts of time in Asia and Africa. I love the street food around Asia, and unfortunately, sometimes it can make you sick. This is not a substitute to eat and drink what you want, you should still use caution when drinking tap water in other countries.
Rabies is spread from the saliva of infected animals, and can be fatal if left untreated. I hope to never get bitten by an animal, however, many countries have animal control problems and you never know when that animal will turn on you. I also am scared shitless of monkeys and have a problem with always petting stray cats so I decided to get this vaccine. This vaccine is given in three doses and must be stuck to a strict schedule. The second dose is to be given 7 days after the first, and the third dose is given 14 days after that. It can be a very costly vaccine if you are not covered, and you still have to seek medical treatment even if you are bitten by a wild animal, so some may see it as not worth the cost and I agree with them. My insurance covered me fully for this vaccine so I decided to go ahead and get it. If I was not covered, I would not have personally paid for this vaccine.
Meningococcal is a bacterial disease that is spread from person to person contact. Most universities require you to get this vaccination if you will be staying in dormitories, so chances are if you went to college you had this vaccination. I could not remember if I had this vaccine, so I decided to go ahead and get it since I stay in hostels quite frequently. This disease is deadly and has been known to cause a serious infection. Not one I want to take a chance with!
Hepatitis A is an infection of the liver that is highly contagious and can be spread by consuming contaminated food and water mostly found in developing countries. I decided to get this vaccine for traveling to parts of India. This is a two-part vaccine that should be given 6 months apart. If you have not planned that far ahead, you should still get the first dose as that will give still give you immunity.
Hep B is caused by a virus that attacks the liver and is transmitted by bodily fluids. I have no plans to get tattoos or have unprotected sex. But like I said before I am a constant worrier and have seen too many movies. You may have had this vaccine as a child, but if not be sure to stay up to date with the two-dose schedule.
Short for Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Chances are you had this as a child, but it is recommended you get a booster every 10 years. I got this just for my general well being, travel or not. It is considered preventative care and is covered under the affordable healthcare act. Most pharmacies and physicians should be able to administer this vaccine.
JE is a disease caused by a virus that is spread through mosquito bites found in certain parts of Southeast Asia and The Pacific, particularly in rural and agricultural areas. This vaccine has high costs and is generally not covered by insurance. I chose not to get this vaccine solely because of the timing of the series of three two shots. If you will be traveling through parts of rural Asia, then this vaccine is highly recommended.
Think you may need some health coverage on the road? Check out World Nomads Travel Insurance to help keep you safe when you’re abroad!
Any immunization recommendations for travel in your experience?
Disclaimer: I am not a health professional, and not accountable for your actions – just a person with an opinion stating my personal experiences with travel vaccinations. Please make your best judgment for your own health.