In a recent Wall Street Journal post, Avoiding Illness on the Road, Dr. Phyllis Kozarsky, a travel health expert for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), offered some good advice for travelers, particularly business travelers. 

In this piece Dr. Kozrsky correctly to advises those who are travelling overseas to get immunized, even if coincident with departure.  However, nascent travelers should be aware that protection is not immediate. In the case of the hepatitis A and B vaccines, for instance, full immunity cannot be guaranteed for everyone who receives the vaccine for at least one month.  Long lasting immunity requires a second vaccination anywhere from one month to one year after the first. 

According to the CDC, the only vaccine that is required by international health regulations is yellow fever for those travelling to sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America. The CDC recommends that this vaccine be obtained at least ten days prior to arriving in an area where yellow fever is endemic.  In addition, the vaccine must be administered at an approved center that can provide the vaccinee an authentic “International Certificate of Vaccination”.  The yellow fever vaccine must be repeated at ten year intervals to remain effective.

Meningitis vaccinations are required in for those travelling to the “meningitis belt” across the middle of the African continent and parts of Saudi Arabia.  The vaccine provides protective antibodies after a week to ten days, with immunization lasting only three to five years.  There are vaccines for encephalitis, an infection of the brain, which must also be administered at least a week or two before travel in order to be protective. 

Those travelling abroad should consult with an infectious disease or travel medicine specialist at least one month prior to trip departure to insure adequate protection against infectious diseases.  Destination specific vaccination requirements can also be found on mPassport.com.

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About The Author

Frank Gillingham, M.D. serves as Chief Medical Director for HTH Worldwide. Frank has led HTH Worldwide's international business development efforts in Europe and Canada and has been a guest speaker at international business conferences and has authored a series of articles on travel medicine, including pieces on travel information available on the Internet and the role of physicians working with travel insurers. Frank is a Board-Certified Internist and Emergency Medicine Specialist. He is also a private emergency physician in Southern California and a former emergency department director and member of the UCLA emergency department staff. Frank completed residency training at Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center, received his M.D. from Albert Einstein College of Medicine and his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania .

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