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Travel Vaccinations That Every Travel Nurse Should Know About

When people plan to travel to exotic destinations, they will need to get various vaccinations to ensure that they don’t fall ill. More often than not, these injections are only necessary when traveling to developing countries where life-threatening diseases and infections are still common. However, it could also be necessary for travelers to get vaccinated even when visiting developed countries on different continents.

As a travel nurse, it is vital that you fully understand the different types of travel vaccinations that are available to your patients. Here’s our round-up of the most common ones that you might have to administer.

Typhoid

Typhoid fever is still quite common in some areas, and vaccination against it is highly recommended if someone is spending a prolonged period in one of the affected countries. The chances that people catch this condition increase when they mix with locals and stay in areas where the quality of sanitation and food hygiene is very poor. There are two types of vaccination against typhoid. The Vi vaccine is given as a single shot while the Ty21a vaccine consists of three capsules that need to be taken on consecutive days. The high-risk areas affected by typhoid are:

  • Africa
  • The Indian subcontinent
  • South and Southeast Asia
  • The Middle East
  • Central and South America

Hepatitis A

There are many different reasons why someone might want the hepatitis A vaccination and one of the main ones is that they are traveling to a country where the disease is still widespread. There are currently three types of vaccines available. One is purely for hepatitis A while another combines vaccinations for hepatitis A and B. The third protects against hepatitis A and typhoid fever. It is important to note that some people may experience side effects after their shot, such as headaches, fatigue, and a loss of appetite. Generally speaking, people traveling to the following areas will need a vaccine:

  • The Indian Subcontinent (especially Nepal, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan)
  • Sub-Saharan and North Africa
  • The Far East (not including Japan)
  • The Middle East
  • Central and South America

Cholera

Even though there is a cholera vaccination available, most people tend not to need it these days as most countries’ sanitation and water hygiene are of a good quality. However, if the disease is very widespread in a traveler’s destination, then it is recommended that they get the vaccine as a precaution. It is also recommended for aid workers who might not have sufficient access to medical help. The vaccine is given as a drink, and the different ingredients that go into it are mixed with water. It is important that people don’t eat or drink an hour before and after taking it. Two doses are needed and should be taken between one and six weeks apart. The following areas are at risk of cholera outbreaks:

  • South and Southeast Asia
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • The Middle East
  • Central and South America

Tuberculosis (TB)

If a traveler is planning on visiting a country where TB is present, they will be required to get the BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guérin) vaccine. This vaccine is given mainly to babies and young adults as studies show that it doesn’t work too well in people over the age of thirty-five. However, it can still be given to people over that age who might be at a particularly high risk of contracting the disease. For example, to medical workers who work in extremely high-risk areas. The vaccine is 70-80% effective in protecting against very severe forms of the disease, and can also prevent meningitis, one of the side effects of TB. You should consider this vaccination for children who are traveling to the following areas:

  • Africa
  • Asia
  • The Indian Subcontinent

Rabies

Rabies is still prevalent in some areas, and the vaccination is recommended for anyone who plans on staying for longer than a month in these places. Even if you are staying for less than a month, it could be necessary for those who are planning on activities that put them at a higher risk to get the vaccination. These types of activities include running, cycling, and any form of exposure to animals. Travelers need to give themselves plenty of time to complete the full course of vaccination before they leave as it can take around four weeks. Once someone has been vaccinated, they should get a booster dose every ten years to ensure that they are protected for life. The following are high-risk areas for rabies, although it is important to note that a bat bite in any country could cause the disease:

  • Central America
  • Sub-Saharan and Northern Africa
  • The Middle East
  • Asia

Yellow Fever

When traveling to some countries where the disease is widespread, travelers entering the country might have to present a certificate to show that they have had the vaccination. This vaccination only becomes valid ten days after it has been given. The body needs time to react to the vaccination for yellow fever and build up a resistance, so all travelers who require this vaccine should get it at least ten days before they leave. There can be certain side effects from the injection that could be dangerous to some people, so it is advised that they do not get the vaccination. These include the elderly, babies, pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with a weakened immune system, and people who are allergic to any of the ingredients. At-risk areas are:

  • Africa
  • Central and South America

Japanese encephalitis

Even though it is not that common in travelers, it is worth noting that some may want to get a vaccination against Japanese encephalitis if they are traveling through rural areas in high-risk countries. The disease is common and pigs and birds, and is passed to humans through mosquito bites. The high-risk areas are:

  • Southeast Asia
  • The Pacific Islands
  • The Far East

Hopefully, this blog post has helped you to get more information on the most important travel vaccinations. Even though there are some more on top of this list, the ones above will be the most requested by travelers.

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