Vaccinations for Travel…Ugh :(
To vaccinate or not to vaccinate? that is the question.
The short answer: we haven’t and typically we choose not to.
We’ve traveled a fair bit – to many different countries, continents and cities – and not for a week at a time, but for as long as 3 months at once. We’ve been fortunate because we both have robust health and strong immune systems. We’ve spent weeks in India, traveled across the breadth of China, been all over SE Asia, and in northern Africa and never contracted anything worse than a cold and a little stomach trouble. In every case, our body’s have been able to fight off and deal with whatever we’ve come in contact with…and we’re not shy about eating at street stalls or eating the local food, so it’s not because we keep ourselves in a sanitary little bubble while we’re traveling.
However, If you read any travel guide or website, there is inevitably a long list of recommended vaccinations. For example, Lonely Planet’s Southeast Asia on a Shoestring lists not less than 12 separate immunizations to consider. Some of them, like polio and measles, mumps and rubella, we already have from childhood. Hep A & B were necessary for Asia where there are high transmission rates due to the culture of sharing food out of the same pot. We don’t have to worry about Varicella and Meningitis, because of our age. And Rabies? Well the Bear was bitten by a dog when he was younger and had to get a rabies shot, but it was the dog that died a week later, not the Bear (true story).
But Japanese B encepha-what? Malaria? Typhoid fever? None of these vaccinations are actually required by any of the countries we’re visiting. The only vaccination that is required is Yellow Fever. If we don’t have the proper certification, we will actually be denied entry into sub-Saharan Africa and South America.
Transmitted by the female mosquito (as if mosquitos weren’t pesky enough already), Yellow Fever can be fatal and it is non-native people who are affected by the most severe cases.
Honestly, if it were really up to me, I’d probably take my chances, but since it’s not, it’s not even worth discussing. As for the rest of it, we shall see…