A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Travel clinic: Providing vaccines before traveling abroad

When you travel abroad or take a vacation overseas, you do not want to return home with a sickness or get seriously ill while you’re there. It is important to visit a travel clinic so you can get the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended travel vaccines for the countries you are visiting.

Illustration - suitcases in front of travel directional signs

Dr. Michael Sullivan is a pediatrician with Marshfield Children’s. His most important advice: Make sure to share your travel plans with your doctor at least two months ahead of a planned trip if possible. Dr. Sullivan sees many college students before their spring break travel.

“A primary care doctor can usually assess your child’s risk and administer vaccines to prevent potentially dangerous illnesses like tuberculosis, typhoid fever, measles, mumps and rubella,” he said. While there is no vaccine for malaria, doctors can usually prescribe medications to prevent it,” Sullivan said.

Marshfield Clinic Health System Urgent Care can provide the yellow fever vaccine.

We also offer Travel Medicine services with our Infectious Disease care team, virtually or in-person at Marshfield and Weston.

Check for outbreaks

The CDC maintains maps of disease hot-spots in the world. Your provider should have access to these constantly changing maps. Most often, outbreaks are found in Africa south of the Saharan Desert, and south and central American countries.

“It’s helpful to be specific as possible about your travel plans with your doctor,” Sullivan said. “You have a lot less risk of contracting a disease in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil if you are staying at 5-star hotels than if you’re camping along the Amazon River. The same country but different exposures to illnesses.”

Malaria, on the other hand, can usually be found in a band around the tropical areas of the world. If you or your child is going on a mission trip to Ecuador, for instance, seek out a medication to prevent or at least minimize the exposure.

“Travel advice should be highly tailored to where you are going,” Sullivan said.

Stay current with common immunizations

Few people would expect an outbreak in a European country like France and England, but they’ve had them. And no matter where you or your child are going, they should be current with their series of immunizations.

“The big one is measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), which we typically give to children 12 to 18 months, and again at 4 to 6 years,” he said.

When you check with your doctor, don’t forget to ask about any travel advisories or disease outbreaks.

For travel services, visit Marshfield Clinic Health System.

Request an appointment Contact Travel Medicine

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