International travel can be a great experience. To have the time of your life, you want to make sure you do everything possible to stay healthy. One of the best ways to prevent illness abroad is to vaccinate yourself against common diseases.
Some vaccines require multiple doses, so you should think ahead to ensure that you have time to complete your cycles before your trip. We recommend consulting with a doctor or pharmacist at least a couple of months before you’re set to leave the country.
Recommended Vaccines for All Canadians
Canada’s Public Health Service’s website suggests Canadians receive the following vaccinations, regardless of travel plans:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Measles, Mumps, and Rubella
- Meningococcal Conjugate
- Pneumococcal Conjugate
Many individuals receive most of these vaccines as children. However, consult your doctor to determine whether you’ve already received the vaccination. Some vaccines may also require boosters, which keep them from being ineffective as you get older.
Common Vaccines for Travelling Abroad
Medical professionals recommend different vaccines for different countries, but the following vaccines are typical when travelling to areas like Asia, South America, and Africa.
- Haemophilus Influenzae
- Japanese Encephalitis
- Yellow Fever
A pilot malaria vaccine is currently in production, but it’s not widely available. Instead of a vaccine, most travellers going to areas with potential malaria risk take pills.
Many drugs, such as the commonly prescribed Malarone, require that you start taking the pills two days before you enter the area where malaria is present. Once your trip is over, doctors advise continuing taking the pills for a week after you’ve left the affected area.
Some people have adverse reactions to antimalarials, such as nausea, insomnia, and strange dreams. Others have found daily pills cause fewer side effects than weekly doses. It’s best to consult your doctor ahead of time to get their opinion.
Most of the vaccines above are optional. However, many countries (especially in tropical areas) require you to get vaccinated for yellow fever before crossing the border. In some cases, you may be required to provide proof of vaccination to enter national parks. You’ll have to get a certification from the person who gave you the vaccine. Make sure to bring this certificate with you everywhere you travel. Keep it next to your passport.
Some people may experience flu-like symptoms after they receive the yellow fever vaccination. Other people may not be able to take the vaccine at all due to medical reasons. In those cases, your doctor may be able to issue a certificate explaining that you are unable to be vaccinated. Some countries may accept the doctor’s certificate instead of the actual vaccination certificate.
Diseases Without Vaccinations
There are some diseases, like Zika and Dengue Fever, which do not currently have vaccinations. Therefore, it’s a good idea to wear bug repellant in areas with mosquitoes carrying dangerous diseases.
Other diseases without vaccinations may be foodborne. Try to drink bottled water and avoid fresh fruits and vegetables that may have been washed in tap water. Also, ask for your drinks without ice.
No matter how many precautions you take, sometimes accidents and sickness can get the best of you. In those cases, make sure you plan ahead and protect yourself with travel medical insurance so, you can enjoy your trip to the fullest.