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Wellness Matters: Travel Smart, Get Vaccinated

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The following weekly column is written and sponsored by Virginia Hospital Center, a proud member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network and one of America’s 100 Top Hospitals for the third year in a row.

Passport? Check. Plane ticket? Check. Hotel reservation? Check. Ready to go? Not quite. There’s one more item for your travel checklist: Visit the Virginia Hospital Center Physician Group Travel Clinic for your vaccinations.

Before you plan your next vacation, consider this: some types of international travel carry health risks. Many serious illnesses, including typhoid and yellow fever, are widespread in developing countries. Diseases that are rare in the United States, such as polio, can still be found in other parts of the world. Measles occurs in many countries, including common travel destinations in Europe and Asia. Even domestic travel may put you at risk for certain infections depending on your planned activities.

Immunization is one of the best ways to protect yourself. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends you schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider before your trip to ensure you are ready to travel. Discuss your itinerary and determine if any special immunizations are required. In addition, make sure you are current on all your routine vaccines, such as polio, tetanus and MMR (measles).

Immunizations are most effective when given four to six weeks before traveling. A good rule of thumb: book your shots when you book your flight. If your departure date is sooner, have the shots anyway. The protection will still be beneficial.

Typical travel vaccines include:

  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Influenza
  • MMR (measles)
  • Pneumonia
  • Polio
  • Rabies
  • Tetanus/Diphtheria/Pertussis
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow Fever

When you get your vaccines, ask about medications, preventive care and other recommendations to keep your travels healthy. Depending on your destination, for example, you may want to bring along remedies for diarrhea, allergies or altitude sickness. In some areas, it’s wise to only eat food that is cooked or drink bottled water that is sealed. Your needs will be different if you are camping versus staying in a resort. To read more, click here.

The Virginia Hospital Center Physician Group Travel Clinic has the vaccines and expertise you need for a safe and healthful vacation. We follow CDC guidelines and can accommodate next-day appointments if necessary. Located on the Virginia Hospital Center campus at 1715 George Mason Drive, Suite 305, the clinic is open Monday through Friday, 1-4 p.m. Make your appointment today: 703.717.7851.

Bon voyage!

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

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