TRAVEL HEALTH, TRAVEL MEDICINE AND TRAVEL IMMUNIZATIONS FOR 2017:
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why doesn't the clinic have a list that tells me what shots I need for my travel destination?
A: Such a list just doesn't exist any more because determining what you need has become a lot more complicated than it used to be when there were very few vaccines available for travelers. Seek good advice.
Q: Don't some countries require certain vaccinations to get in?
A: Yellow Fever vaccination is the only one that is still required by some countries. Old requirements for Smallpox and Cholera have been dropped. Remember that shot requirements have always been to protect their country from the spread of diseases--not to protect you! It is up to you to protect yourself with the right immunization choices.
Q: How do I figure out what shots I should get?
A: There are several possibilities. The Centers For Disease Control is a good resource for general information in the United States. The World Health Organization and several national organizations such as Health Canada are excellent resources. Local health departments sometimes provide information but, because of budgetary constraints, many cannot provide specific or up-to-date advice. One of the best resources is a travel medicine clinic (like the Healthy Traveler Clinic) which has very accurate, up-to-date information which is tailored to your itinerary and health history. Most can provide you with immunizations, medications, advice and just about anything you may want to know about a destination.
Q: How do I find a travel medicine clinic?
A: Ask you doctor if she/he knows of one. There are some good lists of clinics at the web sites of the following: (links are provided on our web site)
Q: How far ahead of my trip should I get my shots?
A: Two months ahead is great as some immunizations take time to complete. But some shots, like Hepatitis A, are worthwhile right up to your departure date. Plan as far ahead as you can but check with the travel clinic before even a last-minute trip.
Q: Do I need other things besides vaccinations?
A: You may need Malaria prevention medication. There are also medicines available for effective treatment of traveler's diarrhea, altitude sickness and more. The most important item is good, reliable, up-to-date travel health information.
Q: Will my health insurance, Health Maintenance Organization or Medicare cover travel health preparation such as vaccinations?
A: Usually not. Many health insurers, including Medicare, feel that travel is a matter of choice so medical preparation should be the responsibility of the individual. Some medications and immunizations may be covered under some circumstances. During your travels, you may want to seriously consider a medical and evacuation insurance that will cover you for the days you are traveling.
Q: Why does my travel clinic or family doctor want me to pay for my visit myself?
A: See previous answer. Often your doctor or travel clinic will get paid exactly zero by your insurer. When they do offer to pay medical offices for vaccinations it is often (and I know this is hard to believe) less than the wholesale cost of the vaccine. The clinic will often be able to give you a statement that you can submit to your insurer. It is worth a try. So scrape the dust off your wallet and invest a little in your future health.
Q: Why are vaccinations so expensive?
A: Vaccines, like other medicines, have become increasingly expensive over the years and many of them are made by only one company so there may be no competition and companies charge whatever they think they can get. But vaccines save a lot of lives, money (and misery) and, if chosen carefully, are still a good investment in your health. One benefit of a good travel health clinic is getting just exactly the immunizations you need. We find we often recommend vaccines not to get and can save you money.
Q: Where can I get my shots the cheapest?
A: O.K., BAD QUESTION. There is an old saying about shopping for the cheapest brain surgeon or cheapest parachute! Travel medicine is now a recognized medical specialty. So chose your provider carefully--remember that the experience, knowledge and information provided are very important aspects of your travel medical preparation. And be fair. Don't try to pump your doctor or travel clinic for free information and then go somewhere else for your vaccinations. Be honest. If you want to get immunizations elsewhere, pay for a travel medicine consultation to make sure you are doing things right.
Q: Why the Healthy Traveler Clinic?
A: Over the years we have prepared thousands of travelers for safe business and leisure trips, efficiently, professionally, thoroughly. We maintain superb, up-to-date information resources, have all vaccines, malaria medications and other travel medicines in stock and can provide prescriptions and many travel supplies you may need--all in one stop.
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