Travel Vaccines
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How Far in Advance Do I Need to Get Travel Vaccines?

When traveling abroad, it’s essential to take care of your health. This goes as much for humanitarians as for any other travelers. It’s almost more important for aid workers to stay healthy; otherwise, it’s impossible to implement their work and help others. You are getting the right vaccines before travel is one of the steps you can take to stay healthy while abroad. Since certain destinations may be at risk for different diseases than your home, you might need to get travel vaccines.

Since humanitarians often deploy last-minute, it’s a good idea to plan your immunization schedule ahead of time.

Getting Travel Vaccinations

When should I get travel vaccines?

When you need to start your vaccine regimen depends on which vaccines you need. It’s essential to always consult with a healthcare professional before deciding which vaccinations you’ll need for your travel. This will depend mostly on where you are traveling. Also, your age, immunization history, and health will determine which travel vaccines you should get.

However, you will typically need to start thinking about travel vaccines at least 4-6 weeks before departure. As mentioned earlier, aid workers might not have that much time before their deployment. So, you might want to consider getting your vaccines ahead of time, before your deployment is scheduled.

You can discuss this with your travel clinic or personal physician and decide the best option for your situation.

Travel where you are needed most

Which travel vaccines do I need to get ahead of time?

Vaccines often contain a live virus. This means that they need an incubation period to start protecting you. Others need more than one dose over a specific period. As such, there is a while before you are entirely immune to all the required treatments.

These are some of the typical travel vaccines you might need and how far in advance you should get them:

1. Hepatitis A and B

Most people use the Twinrix vaccine for hepatitis A and B. It requires two separate doses. You should get each treatment 30 days apart. Then, you’ll need a booster after 6-12 months to complete the immunization cycle.

2. Typhoid

The vaccine against typhoid fever only requires one dose every three years. But, it is a widespread vaccine for travel. So it’s best always to be up-to-date on typhoid immunization if you travel regularly.

3. Yellow Fever

Many countries require you to have a yellow fever certificate to enter. This means that most travelers to yellow fever endemic countries should get this vaccine. It only requires one dose. But it takes ten days to incubate, so you have to get it at least ten days before travel. Plus, make sure to keep your yellow fever certificate at all times.

4. Japanese B Encephalitis

You’ll need to start the Japanese B Encephalitis vaccines two months before traveling. The immunization needs three doses. You get the second one 1-2 weeks after the first shot. Then, on day 28, you get the third one. Plus, you’ll need another month actually to develop immunity.

5. Rabies

Similarly to the previous two vaccines, rabies disease requires three doses. The cycle resembles the one for Japanese B Encephalitis. One dose on day 0, then day 7, and the last one on day 21-28. However, the rabies vaccine only protects you for 2-3 years. Afterward, you’ll need to get regular boosters.

6. Tick-Borne Encephalitis

For immunity against Tick-Borne Encephalitis, you need to start vaccines 3-4 months before travel. You’ll need two doses. The second dose gets administered 1-3 months after the first one.

Last-minute travelers

We know that aid workers ofter travel last minute. As mentioned before, if you know you are up for deployment in the future, try to plan. Get your vaccines sorted out before your travel plans are set. If you work in specific regions, it’s easy to determine which vaccinations you’ll need.

Didn’t have a chance to organize your immunizations before last-minute travel? You should still visit your doctor or a travel health clinic. There might be solutions that will help you stay healthy. For example, some multi-dose vaccines will always provide you with a bit of protection even after one dose. Plus, doctors might have accelerated schedules for certain travel vaccines.

Most importantly, remember that by getting travel vaccines, you are not just protecting yourself. You are also impacting the state of global health. By getting sick while abroad, you risk your health and of those around you. So make sure that you are well-prepared!

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