Booking a vacay? Book your travel clinic appointment!
Jun. 8, 2023
By Mary Wade Burnside
In 2019, the Foo Fighters featuring Weezer and Tenacious D in Rio de Janeiro sounded like a great concert lineup.
Unfortunately, Tenacious D weren’t able to make it. They got as far as the airport in Brazil, where they learned that they wouldn’t be admitted into the country. Why? They hadn’t gotten yellow fever vaccines.
I saw a video featuring this first-person account recently and thought to myself, “If only Tenacious D followed Monongalia County Health Department’s social media! Then they would be in the know when it comes to traveling and vaccines.”
We were hitting the yellow fever vaccine messaging pretty hard in 2019, not knowing how the travel landscape was about to change even more in the ensuing months.
Now that people are coming out of their COVID pandemic bubbles and wanting to go abroad more, Monongalia County Health Department wants to remind the community that our International Travel Clinic is here to help provide guidance and travel vaccines for your out-of-the-country trips.
Different nations require different vaccines, either as a routine matter or because of an outbreak. Sometimes, certain vaccines might not be required, but are a good idea. Rabies, for instance, is much more common in some foreign locations compared to the United States.
Also, many countries no longer require proof of COVID immunization, but it’s good to check beforehand to see what you might need when traveling.
Monongalia County Health Department offers all travel vaccines, and an appointment can be made by calling 304-598-5119. It’s good to call ahead and find out what inoculations you will need and how far in advance you will need them. Some vaccines require at least two doses and then take additional time to become fully effective.
If you just want to do travel vaccines, that’s fine, and we’re happy to help with that. But in an appointment with Dr. Lee B. Smith, MCHD’s county health officer and a seasoned world traveler himself, you can learn a lot of advice, some of it specific to your destination.
Such as: Are you planning ahead so you will have plenty of your prescribed medications with you, as well as proper documentation to get them through customs? Did you know that counterfeit meds are ubiquitous in some countries, so taking them with you from home is your best bet?
Also, do you know handy tips for surviving long plane rides comfortably? Hint: Compression stockings and hydrating are your best friends; contact lenses are not.
And do you know which to apply first, sunscreen or mosquito repellent — the latter of which you really want to slather on in areas with mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika, Dengue, West Nile viruses or malaria?
When it comes to vaccines, make sure you are up to date on your measles vaccine, which comes in the form of measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) inoculation.
Other vaccines available at the clinic frequently recommended for travelers — depending on which places they plan to visit — include hepatitis A, hepatitis B, Twinrix (Hep A & B), typhoid, adult polio, Japanese encephalitis, cholera, rabies pre-exposure vaccine, Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), influenza, meningitis, varicella (chickenpox) and pneumonia.
Don’t worry, it’s doubtful you would need all of these. But determining which to get isn’t always as easy as matching a particular country to a particular vaccine. If you are staying at, say, an all-inclusive beach resort, your risk might be lower for certain diseases than if you were out in the bush.
That said, mosquitoes don’t always know the difference. As Dr. Smith notes, officials in Costa Rica will tell you that malaria isn’t a problem there. But if you go north to Nicaragua, or south to Panama, that is not the case. “I’m not sure the mosquito knows where the geopolitical line starts and stops, particularly out in the bush,” Dr. Smith added.
Mary Wade Burnside is the public information officer at Monongalia County Health Department.