Preparing for Overseas Travel

Published April 18, 2017


If you are planning to travel overseas, don’t let illness spoil your trip. One of the things you should check off your list early on is making sure you are up-to-date on all recommended vaccines. Don’t wait until the last minute. Not only do you need to allot time to schedule an appointment with your doctor, but once you get your vaccines, some may need a week or two to become effective.

The first step is to make sure you and your family are up-to-date on routine vaccinations to protect you from diseases that may be rare in the U.S., but are still common in many other parts of the world. This includes a second MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) and the Tdap vaccine – a booster for adults that includes protection for tetanus, diptheria and pertussis.

The types of vaccines you should have will depend on where you are going. Some common vaccines that are recommended depending on what part of the world you are traveling include the hepatitis A vaccine, which protects against an orally transmitted cause of jaundice (one shot is 85 percent effective; two shots given six months apart are 99 percent effective); hepatitis B, for exposure to blood or body fluids; typhoid, for exposure to contaminated drinking water or food; malaria, for malaria-risk areas; meningococcal vaccine to protect against the meningococcal infection – a major cause of bacterial meningitis; and yellow fever, a viral infection that is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Every year, approximately 1,000 people return to the U.S. with malaria and four or five of these people end up dying.


Going overseas soon?

To prepare you and your family for overseas travel, please make an appointment at our Travel Clinic at Nebraska Medicine – Village Pointe by calling 800.922.0000.


Viruses like Zika and dengue are mosquito-borne illnesses in which no vaccines exist. These viruses are more prevalent in South America, southern Florida and the Caribbean. To help prevent these viruses, you should wear DEET on your skin when going out and treat your clothes with permethrin ahead of time. If you are a female of child-bearing age, you should not get pregnant for eight weeks after traveling to these areas. If you are a male, you should wait six months before attempting to conceive. Other vaccines include a shot for Japanese encephalitis and the rabies shot, both of which require several shots over a month to be effective.

Remember to use common sense protective measures, such as using mosquito repellents, drinking only purified, boiled or bottled water; avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables unless you have peeled them yourself; and don't drink and drive. Be aware that many foreign countries do not have an effective ambulance system like we do so health care is not as accessible. The top two causes of death overseas is cardiovascular disease and motor vehicle accidents. You should also pack over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medications and a supply of antibiotics to help you get through a bout of traveler’s diarrhea.