RVNA Today: Vaccines for travel abroad

People heading abroad should be aware of all the appropriate vaccinations they need to ensure safe travel. Research has shown that many Americans don’t get the recommended vaccines that would protect them from certain illnesses.

One study of 40,000 American adult travelers documented that 16 percent of them needed the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine but only half of them got it. Although measles was declared eliminated in the United States in 2000, unvaccinated Americans can become infected overseas and can cause outbreaks back home when they return. Measles is highly contagious and is found in developed countries in Europe as well as in less developed areas. And adults who experience measles often have a worse bout of it than children.

For people traveling internationally, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that, if needed, all Americans older than 6 months receive the MMR vaccine prior to departure. If you’re not sure about your immunity, check with your primary care physician.

Another illness, Hepatitis A, uncommon in the United States, is more likely to be acquired in countries where there is poor sanitation and limited access to clean water. Americans are typically exposed to hepatitis A through contaminated food and water. A hepatitis A vaccination before traveling abroad can minimize the risks of picking up this virus and carrying it back to the United States.

Based on where you are traveling to outside the United States, there are additional illnesses you might be exposed to. Parts of Africa, Central and South America may require a yellow fever vaccination, while travel to Asia, Africa or Latin America may necessitate a typhoid vaccination.

RVNA’s Travel Health Clinic can help you identify what vaccinations you need to travel safely, and has the vaccines on hand. Plan on coming in for a consultation six to eight weeks before your planned travel. Call 203-438-5555 to learn more or to make an appointment.

RVNA Today is supplied by the Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association which serves Wilton.