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How diligent are you with travel vaccinations?

I've been all over  Europe, Central America and The Caribbean (I'm from North America) and have never had any travel vaccines, and contracting only one case of Giardia which I picked up in Cuba. Now I'm travelling to SE Asia for the first time and getting so many conflicting opinions on how important travel vaccinations are. I know some countries require certain shots before you enter but hearing some people say they've travelled all over with only minimally required shots while staying in high risk areas and have never had a problem in 10 years, while another story about a friend who got all her shots, travelled to an luxury urban area and caught typhoid. Also after asking friends a lot of people get conflicting info from different doctors depending on who you go to.

I'm curious fellow travellers, how diligent are you in getting your shots and how important is it in your list of travel prep? Success and horror stories welcomed!  

15 Answers

top answer by
Mimi from Los Osos

Anti malaria drugs may be more important.  We spent several weeks in and around Thailand - checked with Dr; no warnings.  But we forgot to say we were going to spend 3 days at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.  Never saw a mosquito, never got a bite, but I came down with malaria 2 MONTHS LATER.  The cure was horrific - five days in the hospital taking massive doses of antibiotics and quinine.  I'm told the anti malaria drugs are not fun to take, but getting cured of malaria is much much worse.

6 thankscomments (2)

answered by
Valerie from Haarlem

Three months ago i have travelled to Indonesia and visited the islands of Sumatra, Java and Bali. In Sumatra i spend several days in a high risk zone in the jungle with lots of mosquitos. Even though i used Anti mosquito gel i got bitten every single day. I am very happy that i took all my vaccinations and anti malaria pills during that time. I was extra happy that i got my Hep B vaccination when i was admitted in an Indonesian hospital after tripping and they wanted to put a needle in my foot. The procedure was very sloppy. In my three months in Indonesia i ve been in a lot of high risk situations for diseases as malaria en hepatitis. Just because other people never caught anything without the protection doesn't mean you will be as lucky. Over all i would say: better safe than sorry

4 thanks

answered first by
Justin from Phoenix

I'm very diligent about it. I got vax for yellow fever, typhoid and Hep when I went to Vietnam. I don't see a reason not to do it.

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answered by
Jenifer from Berlin

I just returned from a trip to Myanmar, Vietnam, and Hong Kong and I was very diligent about getting any and all vaccinations/meds. It's not cheap (I think I paid more than $300 just for the vaccinations), but it's better to be safe than sick. I also took an oral typhoid, as well as oral antimalarial meds (Malarone). I had zero side effects from either, although I was excited about the "vivid dreams" my friends told me I'd get with Malarone, which I didn't get. 

As far as I know I didn't pick up anything, although I did get sick on the trip. I did however pick up a nasty stomach parasite in Vietnam which the traveler's diarrhea meds didn't help with at all. But you can't vaccinate against stomach parasites soooo.. :(  

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answered by
Jacey & Scott from Fort Collins

With respect to some diseases, we are very diligent.  Hepatitis for sure (which are lifetime vaccinations).  Oral Typoid is another we keep up on if you are in prone areas (good for 5 years).  Tetenus is another we keep up.  Otherwise, the only other things we've done is pills for malaria if in those affected areas.

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answered by

I always get every vaccination suggested for my destination. The cost of being sick (time off work, medication, general misery) far outweighs the cost of the vaccine. Also, I don't find myself worrying about catching a potentially deadly disease when I should be relaxed and enjoying myself.

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answered by
Danielle from Den Oever

I always go for the vaccinations... But last november I got ill in Cuba! Hepatitis! Horrible... Im still recovering from it! Home for 2 months now... (It wasn't hepatitis A, B or C, i've got those vaccinations...)

1 thanks

answered by
Polly from Washington, DC

Being an uninsured American, getting travel vaccines adds up quickly. On my last big trip, I decided to skip all suggested vaccinations except for one - yellow fever.  While it was expensive (~$200 USD), yellow fever has a 5-10% fatality rate and no cure. The vaccine generally protects you for ten years, so it's a good investment. Plus, upon getting it, your doctor will also give you a 'Carte Jaune', which is required to enter certain countries after traveling to affected areas and is like your own little travel health passport.

However, I made the decision to not take malaria medication, even though I was traveling to Manaus. I'd taken it in the past in South Africa, but the factors that went into my decision were as follows - I was only going to be in an affected area for a short while and was already taking precautions against mosquitoes because of dengue, the majority of cases in South America are from a less dangerous species of the parasite than in Africa, the drug I was prescribed can have nasty side-effects, and I'd known two people in the past five years who took preventative meds and got malaria anyway. In the end, I did my research and weighed the pros and cons, but I also got lucky.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Manaus (city)
  2. South Africa (country)
1 thanks

answered by

Not diligent at all, so far.  The only vaccinations I got was when I went to South Africa (can't even remember what I got.. yellow fever?  cholera? I did take malaria medication).  If I ever get to India, I will get whatever vaccinations are necessary.  Otherwise, I've never worried about it.

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answered by
Roxanne from Montreal

I follow the adviseries of Healt Canada, depending on the destnation And types of traveling ( trecking vs city tourism). But i make sure the basic recalls are made, such as tetanos ( every 10 years ).

You can find more info on the canadian goverment's web site or at a traveler's clinic near you. At these traveler's clinic they will also suggest prescriptions depending on your own health situation or sensitivities.

Remember some vaccinations must be taken months in advance in one or more injections. 

Bether safe than sorry !

1 thanks

answered by
Andy from San Francisco

Hi Kim,

I lived in Manila for 3 years between 2006 and 2009. During that time I traveled throughout the country to all types of different places. I did not catch any serious diseases. 

I've been back there twice for 2 weeks each and I don't bother getting any vaccinations. Mosquitoes are a problem but you probably won't catch anything unless you're going deep into the jungles or something. Even then I don't think the risks are that high. 

However, I've known several friends who have caught Dengue fever, but they've all be locals and not travelers or expats. 

So I would say your decision depends on your risk profile. I personally won't bother with vaccinations, but if it gives you peace of mind, then maybe it's worth it. 

1 thanks

answered by
Brian from Portland

If you're traveling to Asia, make sure you get your hepatitis shots. Since it can be transmitted through sharing of food. That's pretty common in Asian culture. 

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answered by
Elliott from San Francisco

I believe you do not always need vaccinations to travel abroad, but I think it is more of a function on which country you are visiting and what you are doing.  I believe there are certain risks I just do not want to take, so I get vaccinated for them.  They include diphtheria, polio and tetanus booster, typhoid, hepatitis and cholera.  

Yellow Fever, tuberculosis, rabies, meningitis, encephalitis I think are more a function of countries, when you are going, where you are staying, your age, what are you doing - such as volunteering, and your contact with animals. I know there are special considerations for compromised immune systems, and if you are pregnant.

Giardia is a bummer.  No matter where I go, I always carry my Platypus GravityWorks water filter

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answered by
Hazel from Port St. Lucie

Always up to date. I am my own pharmacy. I wear mask and gloves through airport. Didn't get sick this year through O Hare and Atlanta

answered by
Matt from Scottsdale

I always get 'em.

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