Useful vaccinations for traveling

Vaccine yes, vaccine no… for some years now the “vaccine war” seems to have become a real civil war! Which is weird, given that for at least 200 years these medicines have allowed us to fight and often overcome some terrible diseases. Not least the Covid. Unfortunately, the exasperation of the news during the pandemic has created distrust and fear in people and now many look at vaccines with suspicion. But vaccines are useful, indeed essential, if you have to travel. The question is: are they all mandatory? If not, what are the ones to do necessarily and those only recommended?

Be up to date with vaccines

Being “up to date” with the vaccines of your country is the first thing to do or check when booking a trip. Because if it is necessary to defend oneself against foreign diseases, it is also true that one must not become a vehicle of disease for others. In the West now the flu and measles – thanks to vaccines – do not kill, but in Africa they still do.

So before leaving, get or renew the vaccines recommended by your ministry of health. Usually, in Western countries, these are standard vaccines: rash diseases, tetanus, hepatitis, polio. To these are added today the vaccination against Coronavirus and that against human Papillomavirus. If you are up to date with these vaccinations, just add those necessary for the foreign countries you are going to visit.

Mandatory and recommended vaccinations

If you travel to countries that still struggle with certain viruses or certain diseases, even if we have already defeated them in the West, you need to get vaccinated to protect yourself and others. The mandatory vaccines for certain destinations – especially in Africa and Asia – are those against malaria, against yellow fever, typhoid and hepatitis.

Other types of vaccines are recommended depending on the destination you choose for your trip. For example, the vaccines for meningitis, cholera, Japanese encephalitis are strongly recommended. Even the anti-rabies vaccination is a necessary and recommended one, especially if you go to wild places where it is easy to meet animals up close.

How and when to get vaccinated before a trip

The advice is to start thinking about vaccinations at least one year before the date set for the trip. It should be done about eight months before departure, but if you anticipate a little more you cannot be wrong. Depending on the type, some vaccines require a booster, others a precise time for action. Talking to your doctor is always the best thing to do.

The necessary vaccines can be performed at any public vaccination clinic, even if there are centers set up by the ministry of health that refer to W.H.O. directives. This is because some particular vaccines (for example, against yellow fever) require specific specialized laboratories. The advice of the treating doctor is always necessary, because not everyone can undergo multiple vaccines at the same time. Therefore, also on the basis of your situation, it will be appropriate to evaluate the feasibility of the trip.