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10 Vaccinations for International Travelers

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Travel medicine is a multidisciplinary field concentrating on prevention of infectious diseases and patient safety during international travel.  Advising international travelers on vaccine-preventable diseases is increasingly becoming the responsibility of primary care physicians (PCPs).  Physicians should maintain familiarity with current recommendations for travel health safety.  Today, international travel to exotic locales is commonplace.  Travel vaccines generally fall into one of three categories—childhood immunizations that should be updated or boosted, legally required immunizations necessary for entry into certain countries, and recommended immunizations that depend on the risks of exposure at the travel destination.

Ten vaccinations for international travelers are…


1. Hepatitis A

Hepatitis represents inflammation of the liver.  Hepatitis A is an acute infectious disease of the liver caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV).  The disease is transmitted through ingestion of contaminated food and water or through direct contact with an infectious person.  Almost everyone recovers fully from hepatitis A.  Improved sanitation and the hepatitis A vaccine are the most effective ways to combat the disease.

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) recommends the hepatitis A vaccine for the following groups—travelers to developing countries; children 12-months and older; persons with clotting disorders or chronic liver disease; and anyone engaging in risky sex behavior.  The hepatitis A vaccine is administered as 2-shots, at least 6 to 12-months apart.  Preferably, the first dose of vaccine should be provided 4-weeks prior to departure.  The vaccine provides protective antibody levels in 94 to 100-percent of patients within 4-weeks of vaccination.  Common adverse effects of this vaccine include injection site soreness and headaches.

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