Vaccines: they’re an essential part of safe travel preparations. The 2014 Travel and Tourism U.S. outbound report cites almost 9 out of 10 citizens depart without them. CBS news reported on why many of us find reasons not to get vaccinations. Shots hurt for a second. The diseases can hurt for months, and even kill. Here’s some of the main reasons travelers don’t vaccinate:
- I don’t really need a vaccine: Odds are you do if you’re planning on traveling abroad. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website includes a list of recommended shots and preventions by destination. U.S. citizens live in the security of a country where most diseases have been eradicated. We have immunity because we vaccinate. Other countries have not eradicated similar diseases, like measles resurgence, or even more shocking Bubonic Plague which even occurs in the United States where twelve cases and three deaths occurred in 2015. The CDC even recommends an adult polio vaccine booster if travelers are visiting some countries.
- I’m pretty sure I have all my shots: Maybe for threats in the United States. There are vaccinations for diseases in other countries most people do not need unless they travel there. Possibilities include Rabies, Typhoid, Hepatitis A & B, Japanese Encephalitis, for example. Access to your health records and a travel clinic is the best way to determine what preventions you need.
- I hate getting shots: Getting a vaccine can hurt for a short time. Needle phobia is something most patients feel. No one is excited to get a shot in the arm. Some of the worst diseases out there are preventable with vaccines, or even oral medications. The diseases are far more painful than the prevention.
- I don’t have time to go to a travel clinic: If you have 15 minutes, you can get a shot in the arm when you visit Walgreens, Walmart, Target or CVS/Minute Clinic when you shop for sunscreen, bug spray, and toiletries. Don’t forget comfort products such as Imodium to relieve traveler’s diarrhea and tummy troubles.
- I’ll risk it: Getting sick at home is much different than being sick abroad. Health centers may refuse to help you unless you can pay up front. Some illnesses are not only painful, they are contagious and can be fatal. Getting vaccinated isn’t just about you – it’s for everyone who might come into contact with you. Get your shots for the sake of the broader community. Otherwise, you might take people down with you.
Diseases are like poisons in our system destroying our health and lofty goals for a rewarding adventure. The antidote is a shot in the arm weeks before you depart. You can’t travel without your passports; in some countries you have to show proof of vaccinations, such as for Yellow Fever. Don’t forget to pack some antibodies and build up your immunity. Get the travel safety checklist to learn more at Depart Smart.org.