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By Danielle, Contributing writer
As I was preparing for a missions trip to Central America, I noticed it seems as though the need to get a solid 10 vaccines–which aren’t “needed” in the States–is right next to getting your passport. But is getting vaccines when traveling abroad really a requirement, and is it necessary?
Do You Really Need Vaccines When Traveling Abroad?
Even those educated on the dangers of vaccines may roll up their sleeves for a malaria, typhoid, or hep A/B shot (as it is heavily marketed for anyone traveling south of Miami). Most countries do not have vaccine requirements, just recommendations, though your doctor may phrase it differently. You’re better off boosting your immune system and ensuring you have clean food and water than getting any vaccines when traveling abroad.
Things to Consider When Traveling Abroad
Check Country’s Individual Requirements
Review if the country suggests a vaccine for travel to the country. You can see if you will need to furnish proof of immunization or an exemption, but more importantly, get an idea of what illnesses with which you may come in contact. Remember that these are mostly recommendations, not requirements. There are only a few countries which require travelers to have proof of immunization, and that’s mostly for yellow fever regions (for which there is a waiver).
Consider the Season
Most regions of the world have a rainy season, which brings in more critters, insects and disease. Avoid these not-so-fun months of travel, and you’re less likely to run into some malaria-fun.
Evaluate and Boost Your Immune System
Just like in the U.S., what matters more than if you come in contact with an illness is your “terrain,” the state of your immune system. Load up on the immune boosting natural food and supplements below.
How To Deny Vaccine Requirements Abroad
The vaccine exemptions you need in the U.S. when entering school apply to any vaccine restrictions abroad. Get a copy of your religious or medical vaccine exemption, and bring it along. If you are worried, bring an extra $10. Really. The only disease which may require vaccine is yellow fever, but a waiver is available. This is mostly for central African and South Americans countries. Check if your country of travel has this requirement, and complete a waiver if necessary. There are also ways around such requirements for immigration and adoption.
Image by Danielle
How to Prevent Disease Abroad Without Vaccines
Load Up on Pre- and Probiotics.
This will build your gut up against any bacteria you come in contact with, and in turn, boost your immune system,
Take Natural Antivirals Before and After Your Trip
Lysine and olive leaf extract are both antivirals which can help you fight any viruses (and detox any you may already have). Supplement with one capsule a day two weeks before your trip, and two capsules of each per day the week before and after your trip.
Supplement Astaxanthin Before and After Your Travels
This powerful antioxidant can lessen damage by UVA rays and radiation (from any plane travel).
Ensure a Clean Water Supply
This can single-handedly keep you from getting sick. Plan ahead and ensure you will have access to clean water and properly prepared food.
Bring Your Natural Supplements and Remedies
If you are in the U.S., you can order homeopathics from your naturopath, or online from Canada, for any specific disease for which you are concerned.
Detox Once You Return
A gentle detox bath once you return can ensure that you get rid of any nasties picked up during your travels.
I landed back in the States with a decent sunburn, but not needing to use any of my homeopathic remedies. Before you let those lovely “you need the hepatitis A and B vaccines before traveling south of Ohio…”, read up on your options and how you can prepare your body to have a healthy trip – without a vaccine reaction.
My coworker and his family all contracted Typhoid. He couldn’t work for six months and had to go on long-term disability.
Bribery is just how people do business in much of the world. My mom went to Africa with a medical waiver for the yellow fever vaccine. The guy checking the documents said it wasn’t acceptable. She argued with him for 10 minutes, then someone else in her travel group suggested she give him $20. She did and there was no more problem. And she never got yellow fever or malaria (which she did not take the recommended preventive pills for).
My husband and I along with our two small children have traveled to southern mexico during the summer months for two years in a row. We load up on vitamin C, probiotics, and drink only filtered water. We visit a non tourist area and have never gotten seriously ill. On our last trip we all contracted a virus, either chicunguya or dengue fever, not sure which. It was miserable for a few days, mostly thanks to the itchy rash. But we all came out of it fine(and are now immune) Although i hope it will never happen again, and i plan to be more generous with natural bug repellent next time it certainly hasnt scared me into vaccines. We kept properly hydrated, ate lightly, used aloe on the rash, and took a little tylenol when we felt we couldnt stand the joint pain and fever. No big deal.