The Caribbean and the country of Mexico are two very fun and diverse vacation destinations. You have the chance to experience desert, mountains, lush jungles, and plains just miles from gorgeous white sand beaches. Visiting ancient historical and religious sites are a great way to get in touch with the local environment. If you are planning a trip to the Caribbean and/or Mexico, you should take every precaution possible in order to have a safe, healthy trip. There are some things you can do to protect yourself from vaccine preventable illness, or common viral or bacterial infections, and all it takes is a little corroboration with your travel doctor.
You should already be routinely vaccinated against common “childhood diseases,” such as polio, chicken pox and the measles. Almost everyone born in the U.S. has received the MMR series of vaccination shots (measles, mumps, rubella), and have been vaccinated with the DPT series of vaccination shots (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus). A quick check of your immunization history will tell you if you are currently inoculated, or if you need any boosters.
You should plan to have all your vaccinations completed, including any you may need for travel to Mexico or the Caribbean, at least six weeks before you travel. Some vaccinations, such as the Hepatitis A and B vaccine need up to six months before you can receive the second shot in the series and up to a year before you can receive the third shot in the series, so keep your vaccination schedule in mind while planning a trip. Even if you don’t have enough time before you leave, you should still be immunized. It is better to have some protection than none at all.
Hepatitis A is a virus that is commonly spread through food and water that is contaminated with feces. It is not unheard of for someone to contract Hep A in a so called “Americanized” restaurant or hotel, so don’t be misled. Additionally, you can contract this from close personal contact, particularly if you live with an infected person.
Hepatitis B is most commonly transmitted sexually or by exposure to bodily fluids. If you have sex, even with a condom, you are not protected without the vaccine. You may also be injured while on vacation, and may need to visit a hospital. Hospitals are a hot spot for Hep B because many countries don’t use the same kinds of sterilization methods we do in the U.S. The only way to feel 100% safe is to get the Hepatitis A and B vaccines.
Typhoid, or typhus, is still prevalent in some areas of Mexico and the Caribbean, so you will want to be protected with a vaccination shot. This isn’t a routine vaccination, but it is easily obtainable through your doctor or healthcare provider.
In Central America and the Caribbean Islands, there have been outbreaks of malaria and dengue, which are commonly spread by mosquitoes. The best way to protect yourself from these is to wear appropriate clothing to protect exposed skin, and also use an insect repellent. There are anti-malaria drugs you can start taking, but there is no known vaccine for dengue itself. Fortunately, risk for the common traveler is very low.
The Rabies vaccine is not recommended for the casual traveler, but if you plan to hike, mountain climb, camp outside, or go cave exploring, you would be wise to have a rabies vaccine. Bats are a primary carrier of Rabies in the Caribbean, but many other types of animals are also carriers. If you plan to visit areas where you may come into contact with stray dogs and cats, or any other type of animal, you could be at risk. Remember, it only takes one bite or scratch to contract rabies.
Immunization Shots for Caribbean and Mexico in Your NYC Travel Clinic
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Traveling outside of USA and concerned about your health? Travel vaccinations are recommended for many destinations. Find out about the requirements and talk to a physician.
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