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One of the things you need to think about before you travel are any health concerns pertaining to your destination in general, or to your own health specifically. A good place to start is by thinking about whether you are up-to-date on your immunization schedule, both “required” and “recommended.”
Think about it. Many of the places we go – beaches, museums, theme parks, resorts, historic sites – feature large crowds of visitors from all over the world. People touch things, cough, sneeze, hang about in queues, eat and drink things that may be different than what they’re used to, etc. Don’t you want to make sure you’re as protected as you can be?
Luckily, the Canadian government has a wealth of information available online; one of the things they recommend is visiting your usual doctor or a travel medical clinic 6 to 8 weeks before your trip. This will give you time to find out what additional immunizations you may want to consider, or what may be required to enter the country you are visiting. Many vaccines may need a certain period of time before you are protected; some may need to be administered in two doses. Likewise, bloodwork to determine if you are already immune to some diseases may need a few weeks to be processed. And tetanus shots in particular seem to be something adults often forget about (I think they’re good for ten years now) Luckily, I have stepped on a piece of glass, a rusty nail and been bitten by a dog at convenient nine or ten year intervals, so I’m always up to date.
This isn’t only relevant to travelling outside of North America either. In fact, the only time I’ve needed an additional vaccine was for a trip to Iowa, of all places. There’d been several outbreaks of measles on college campuses that year, and the organization sponsoring our trip decided that we couldn’t go without the recommended booster. My doctor started by giving me a blood test to determine if I needed the shot. I was 30-something at the time, and hadn’t had one since I was a child. I needed the shot. In fact, although all the teenagers we were taking were adequately vaccinated for school attendance, 4 of them needed the booster for the trip.
If you’re travelling with very small children who may not have received all the doses of the usual vaccines, you’ll want to speak with the doctor about that too. And there are also things like the flu shot – not required, but not a bad idea either.
You can also look up current concerns in the countries you are visiting. Diseases that we may think of as almost non-existent do pop up from time to time – polio, cholera, measles, whooping cough. Forewarned is forearmed!
Have you ever had to get a shot to go somewhere?