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3 essential vaccines you need before your international vacation

July 07, 2015
A globe stopped over China

You work all year for the chance to take that big summer family vacation, and now that the weather has taken a turn for the better and work seems to be slowing down a bit, it's time to pack your bags and set out for your big adventure. If you have the time and money for it, international vacations can be some of the most exciting and rewarding trips your family ever goes on.

However, while fitting enough clothes for a week abroad into your luggage can be challenging enough, there are certain countries that have some hidden threats to your health you need to be aware of, too. The U.S. has one of the strongest mandatory vaccination systems in the world, but only for the viruses and bacteria you're likely to be exposed to in the continental 48. When you travel to Europe, Asia or even just across the border to Mexico, you put yourself in danger of contracting illnesses that won't only ruin your vacation, but could pose major health threats as well.

If you have a big international vacation planned for you or your family, check out these three popular destinations and what vaccines you might need if you travel there. Of course, this isn't an exhaustive list, so it's always better to check with your local CareWell urgent care center for all your travel vaccination needs before you go.

1. Anywhere outside the US: MMR vaccine
Unfortunately, some international travelers think that because there's little to no risk of contracting certain diseases in the U.S., they don't need to protect themselves from those illnesses when they go abroad. However, just because a disease has been eliminated in this country doesn't mean it isn't still active and very much a threat in others.

"20 million people contract measles annually worldwide."

That's why the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine is probably the most important one to get if you plan on traveling internationally. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20 million people contract measles annually worldwide, and 170 Americans have come down with the illness in 2015 already. Some of the hotbeds of disease activity include Europe and Asia, especially the Philippines.

In fact, if you plan on traveling to a country known for its uncontrolled measles, mumps and rubella population, customs might not let you in unless you have documents that prove you're vaccinated against them.

2. Central and South America: Hepatitis A vaccine
While most family vacations will stick to the beaten path and take you to developed countries, there's always the adventurous couple or lone traveler that wants to check out the more rural parts of the world. Of course, this means you might be sleeping in tents as opposed to feather beds, showering once a week instead of once a day and exposing yourself to certain diseases that you just don't find in the U.S.

One of those diseases is Hepatitis A, and if you've booked a trip through undeveloped parts of Central and South America, it's imperative that you get yourself vaccinated. Hepatitis A is most commonly contracted by eating undercooked foods or meals prepared in unsafe and unregulated conditions. While enjoying the local fare is one of the great pleasures of international travel, you won't be able to stomach much if you forget to vaccinate yourself before you fly.

Beautiful Asian countrysides can hide serious threats to your health.
Beautiful Asian countrysides can hide serious threats to your health.

3. China: Japanese encephalitis vaccine
While you usually have to eat poorly cooked food or come into contact with another person who has a communicable disease to contract serious illnesses, sometimes you can have your trip ruined and your health threatened by something as small as an insect.

If your trip takes you to China or other rural parts of Asia, all it takes is the bite of an infected mosquito to give you Japanese encephalitis. This disease shouldn't be taken lightly, as 25 percent of those who contract JE eventually die from the illness.

With so much riding on not just your international vacation but your health, too, why not take a quick trip to your nearest CareWell urgent care center to see what they can do for you?

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