Tips and General Information

• Keep in mind that when researching your trip, you may be told by a travel agency or embassy that no vaccines are needed for the area you are visiting. This may indicate that no vaccines are required for entry into that country or return to the United States, but vaccination still may be prudent if there is a risk of disease in that country.

• It is important to remember that vaccines are not always 100% effective in preventing infection. The earlier you are vaccinated prior to exposure, the more effective the vaccine will be in helping to fight off the infection. There are also infections that cannot be prevented by vaccination, such as traveler's diarrhea, malaria and HIV. As a result, taking normal preventive measures to limit the chance of exposure (e.g. washing hands frequently, avoiding contact with animals, avoiding raw or undercooked foods, avoiding potentially contaminated water, using insect repellent, and practicing safer sex) is just as important as being vaccinated.

• There are two main types of vaccines: live and inactivated. Generally, inactivated vaccines consist of a primary dose and one or more booster doses administered at varying intervals. Except in cases where reactions to the vaccine might be exacerbated by other vaccines, inactivated vaccines can be administered simultaneously. They may also be administered at the same time as an active vaccine (which require only one dose). If multiple active vaccines are required, they should be administered with an interval of at least three weeks.

• Under certain circumstances, routine vaccination may not be advisable. Patients with acute illnesses like colds or flu should postpone vaccination until they are well. Additionally, pregnant women should only be vaccinated in cases where the risk of exposure to an illness outweighs the risk of possible harm to the unborn child. For many vaccines, the risk to unborn children is unclear. Women who are breast-feeding can safely receive most vaccinations, but should be aware that immunity does not pass to the child through breast milk.

• Patients who are immunocompromised or immunosuppressed due to HIV infection, radio- or chemotherapy treatment, or other immunosuppressive treatment should not receive live vaccines. Certain inactivated vaccines may be administered to these patients, but they may be ineffective or less effective than in patients with strong immune systems. HIV patients who may be at risk for exposure to Yellow Fever should consult a specialist regarding vaccination.

Information on Common Travel Vaccines

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