Travel Medicine and Immunizations for traveling
in the less well-developed areas of the world.
If you are planning to travel abroad, particularly to less developed
countries, we recommend that you acquaint yourself with the contagious
diseases that might be endemic to the country or countries which you
intend to visit. You can attempt to do this yourself through Internet
searches and visits to the websites of the Center for Disease Control
(CDC) or the World Health Organization (both sources are described in
our article on
Information for Travel) However, we think your best bet is to
find a health professional who is certified by the International Society
of Travel Medicine (
). ISTM is committed to the promotion of healthy and safe travel
and has members in over 65 countries worldwide.
The reason that we are making you aware of ISTM is that the organization
maintains that its practicing members have passed a professional
examination on travel medicine, are in possession of the ISTM
Certificate in Travel Health and are involved in a mandatory process to
keep the certificate active, which requires professional education,
study and involvement in the field of travel medicine. While you could
go to your family physician for advice on travel medicine, members of
ISTM are usually more up-to-date in the study of infectious disease and
are likely to be familiar with the disease risks associated with each
country you may intend to visit.
In preparation for an upcoming trip we recently visited with a physician
who was a member of ISTM. He conducted a thorough medical history,
charted the locations we intended to visit, asked questions about the
types of accommodations we would be using and other details that allowed
him to analyze the potential health-related issues in our travel plans.
On the basis of his recommendations, we each had four inoculations to
protect us against communicable diseases for which we might be at risk
given our itinerary. Most ISTM members keep supplies of vaccines on hand
and often can provide the required immunizations during your visit.
In helping us make our decision about which immunizations would be
practical, the doctor informed us of the cost, the level of protection
offered by the vaccine, the length of time that the vaccine would
protect us and the need for boosters in the future. There was no high
pressure, just a matter of fact analysis of what diseases we might
encounter and which vaccinations could protect us from these health
threats. In addition, he walked us through potential threats he felt
that we would be unlikely to encounter on this specific trip and
provided us information on what to do should the unexpected occur.
Make no mistake, the vaccines are often expensive and the injections can
result in sore shoulders for a day or two. However, the consequences of
many of the infectious diseases can be devastating and we decided that
this was an expense of travel that we were willing to protect against.
Like travel insurance, whether or not to vaccinate is an individual
choice and there is no right or wrong answer.
Whatever you decide to do, ask an expert. Your travel agent or your
friends are unlikely to have the required knowledge to advise you on the
issue of travel immunizations. Indeed, your own doctor may be
uncomfortable providing this service and may not know the best advice.
ISTM offers a global travel clinic directory that allows you to search
for its members by city within countries. The search is not the best we
have seen, but it might help you find an ISTM member who can answer your
questions about travel medicine and what you can do to prevent disease
when you travel to locations that might be more concerning than most of
your travels. If all else fails, use your favorite search ending to look
for “travel immunizations + the name of your town” in your search for a
reputable provider of advice on travel medicine and immunizations.
We note that our recommendations on ISTM members and
the need for travel immunizations are based on our personal preferences
and experience. Always seek the advice of certified medical
experts when dealing with any medical issue, including immunizations for
If you need to find information about Destinations or other Things
Travelers Need To Know, try Googling ThereArePlaces.
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