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International senior travel: What shots will you need?

Mar 16, 2012, 9 a.m.

On matters concerning fear and worry, Mark Twain said, "I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened." Visitors to far-away territories encounter a difference in air quality, sanitation rules and the availability of medical facilities. Foreign lands may also present certain disease risks that are no longer a threat on U.S. soil, but it is not difficult to get the necessary international travel vaccinations. Before leaving the States, read up on what to avoid, up-date your shots for international travel, and then stop worrying about things that haven't actually happened.

Shots for international travel: A few current situations

Poliovirus:

As of October 2011, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that China is currently experiencing a new outbreak of the poliovirus. The type is similar to the outbreak found in Pakistan during 2010. All travelers to China should make certain they are up-to-date on the polio vaccine. Don't guess. Consider the value of a booster dose before the journey begins.

Rabies:

In another report, the CDC gives the warning of a rabies outbreak in Bali, Indonesia. This problem, ongoing since November of 2008, has resulted in the death of more than 100 people. Popular local tourists attractions are not excluded from risks. Recommended international travel vaccinations for visitors to this area include pre-exposure rabies vaccination and immediate medical attention for any animal induced injury.

Malaria:

While there are a variety of anti-malarial vaccines available, a highly protective immunization has not yet been developed. Current efforts by the West Africa, Roll Back Malaria initiative include free distribution of mosquito nets. This two-fold defense mechanism reduces bites while also causing the death of any mosquito that lands on the net.Check your doctor for current information on international travel vaccinations that can reduce the risk of malaria.

Other recommended shots for international travel include:

Brazil: Yellow fever vaccination

Worldwide: Measles vaccination

Comprehensive List: CDC diseases related to travel

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