Travel Season is Upon Us: Are you prepared for your best vacation ever?
Spring is officially upon us, and along with April showers and May flowers comes the beginning of the travel season. While routes are being mapped, flights booked, and bags packed, one of the last things on any traveler’s list to prepare is that trip to their physician to discuss necessary vaccinations and health conditions. But the reality is that a quick health and safety check can help to ensure that your trip goes as planned.
When is a travel medicine checkup necessary?
Travelers should see their physician or visit a travel medicine clinic if:
- they are going to developing countries,
- they are visiting sites that are not on the usual tourist routes or traveling to high altitudes,
- they have chronic diseases that could be affected by travel,
- they are visiting countries that require vaccinations before they allow travelers to enter the country.
What should a travel medicine checkup include?
A pre-travel checkup with your doctor approximately 4-6 weeks before your trip can help ward off common but annoying illnesses, as well as less common diseases that could be serious, or even fatal. The checkup should include:
- an annual influenza vaccination (flu shot),
- ensuring the traveler is up to date on his or her tetanus vaccine,
- discuss prescriptions for malaria prevention and for treatment of traveler’s diarrhea,
- discussion about your destination and any health risks such as exposure to region-specific diseases, contaminated water, disease-carrying insects, extreme temperatures and other extreme weather,
- discussion about your health condition, particularly if there are concerns about your respiratory or heart health, chronic disease, and altitude variations at your destination.
What other travel risks can I prepare for?
There are many precautions a traveler can take to ensure not only a healthy vacation, but also a safe one.
- The majority of travel-related injuries and deaths are due to motor vehicle accidents. Be sure to research traffic laws at your destination, make a point to drive with as few distractions as possible, and never drive while intoxicated.
- Make extra copies of your passport, itinerary, and other travel documents, then leave them with a trusted family member or friend.
- Check with your health insurance provider to find out about medical coverage outside the United States. Consider additional insurance that covers medical care and emergency evacuation, especially if you will participate in extreme sports or travel to remote areas.
- Check the US Department of State website for information on security risks. Register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program so the US embassy or consulate can contact you in an emergency.
- Make a checklist. The Centers for Disease Control houses a thorough yet practical checklist to accommodate travel plans both near and far.
For quick and easy access to a travel medicine checkup, contact Carson Valley Medical Center’s Occupational Health
office at (775) 782-1615.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control, Traveler’s Health, http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel
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