Getting Vaccinated Before Your Vacation: Why You Should Do It

Planning a vacation to an exotic locale? Don’t forget to think about health precautions before you go. Read on to find out why getting vaccinated is something you should add to your pre-vacation checklist.

What You Need to Know Before Leaving

Travel shots usually mean photos of a trip. But for pleasant memories of a journey, you may need other types of shots-namely, vaccinations.

“It’s important to learn about infectious diseases, immunization and other health-protection measures before travelling,” says Geoff Matthews, a spokesperson for the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). The agency’s website has detailed information on shots for travelers at phac-aspc.gc.ca/tmp-pmv.

Shots You Might Need

There are many variables, including your destination, length of stay, age and health, and whether your routine immunizations are up to date. As you age, your vaccine-acquired protection may decrease, so additional shots may be recommended. According to PHAC, your best bet is to consult your family physician or a travel health clinic (a list of clinics is available on the PHAC site).

When to Get Vaccinated

It can take time for vaccines and medications to work, so plan to get your assessment at least six weeks before you leave. If travelling on short notice, ask about accelerated vaccination options.

Verify if Vaccinations are Mandatory

Beyond health issues, you may need a particular vaccine just to enter a country. For example, the Saudi Arabian government requires proof of meningococcal vaccination for travel during the annual hajj pilgrimage. And 21 countries in Central Africa and South America require proof of vaccination against yellow fever.

For more on travel health, download a PDF copy of the booklet Well on Your Way: A Canadian’s Guide to Healthy Travel Abroad, or get a copy by contacting the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada at 1-800-267-8376.

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