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Vaccinations when Traveling to Central and South America

Staying healthy during international humanitarian missions is essential. Without your health, you cannot help others. So, it’s important to take the necessary precautions, including vaccinations. If you are traveling to Central and South America, there are some recommendations for travel vaccines.

Why get travel vaccines?

Diseases differ between various countries and regions. Most children will get the essential vaccines for their area. These are the standard ones mandated by the government and administered to the local population.

But when you travel outside your country, health conditions may differ. For example, if you are from the North, there is no risk of you contracting Yellow Fever. However, in most tropical countries, it is a possibility.

To make sure that you are successfully implementing your project, you’ll need to stay healthy. So preventative measures such as travel vaccines are an essential step in your pre-departure planning.

Getting Travel Vaccinations

Who should get vaccinated?

Whether you need to get travel vaccines and which ones you need depends on your health and where you are traveling. If you are going to the Amazon or other tropical areas of Central and South America, you probably need to get some vaccines. However, for specific regions that are more urban or colder, you might not need them.

That’s why you should always consult with a medical professional or a travel clinic to determine the best option for you.

List of recommended travel vaccines for Central and South America

Note, that this is a general list of recommendations for Central and South America. Raptim is not a healthcare professional, and you should consult with one before making any decisions regarding vaccinations.

Hepatitis A and B 

There are five types of hepatitis, but the most common vaccines are for Hep A and B. As Hepatitis A is being transmitted through contaminated water or food, it is essential to get a vaccine before traveling. Particularly for places with subpar hygiene standards.  

Typhoid Fever

This is a bacterial, life-threatening disease. It can spread from a person who is actively ill, or who continues to carry the bacteria. It can also spread through contaminated food and water. In the Americas, there is a particular risk for Typhoid Fever in Peru.

Rabies

Over 150 countries and territories see occurrences of rabies. Infected animals transfer the disease through their bites. The incidence in the Americas has dropped significantly. However, if your work is very remote or has to do with handling animals, the vaccine is still recommended.

Yellow Fever

Yellow fever is a mosquito-borne disease. It is generally not life-threatening but could be fatal in a small number of patients. Thirteen countries in Central and South America are endemic for yellow fever. Certain countries make it an entry requirement to have a yellow fever vaccination certificate.

Immunization Resources for Humanitarians

Cholera

Spread through contaminated water, Cholera can lead to circulatory collapse. It is prevalent in low-income countries. Most travelers are not at risk for Cholera, as long as they take precautions in water consumption. However, humanitarian workers in specific settings may consider the vaccine.  

Malaria Prevention

Malaria is both curable and preventable disease caused by parasites, which are transmitted by mosquitoes. However, some cases do result in a fatal outcome. It can also be extremely lengthy and painful in recovery.

Most cases of malaria occur in the African region. However, certain areas in South and Central America continue to see malaria cases. This is particularly true for the deeper tropical regions.

If you plan on traveling to areas with high potential for malaria, make sure you take precautions. You may take anti-malaria drugs. However, they do have side effects. The primary prevention method for malaria is vector control. Simply put, you’ll need to avoid mosquito bites.

Dengue, Zika, Chikungunya

Travelers to Central and South America should also be aware of three mosquito-borne viruses – Dengue, Zika, and Chikungunya. None currently have an accepted vaccine. Travelers are encouraged to take preventative measures.

Mosquitoes transmit all three viruses. Visitors to areas with mosquitoes should use mosquito nets, long sleeves and pants, mosquito repellent, and other strategies to prevent bites. Note, that Zika may also be transmitted sexually.

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