If you plan to travel outside of the United States, it is often strongly recommended, if not required, that you get vaccinated. Taking an unwanted traveler with you, such as a cold, on vacation or on a business trip, sounds pretty terrible. Bringing a life-threatening illness back home is much worse for you and potentially for your family or community. That’s why it’s so important to do your research and get vaccinated before you travel.

We see news all the time about pandemics in other countries. By getting immunizations, you lower your vulnerability to getting seriously ill. Be sure to talk to your doctor about where you’re going, the length of your stay, and your predominant activities, such as whether you’ll be in an urban area, sightseeing outdoors, or eating local food. Below are some countries and what you should be aware of.


In most of Africa, concerns about the disease are no greater than in other countries where there is a risk of hepatitis A and typhoid fever due to contaminated food and water, malaria if you are in a high mosquito area, and yellow fever. Not as common but a risk, however, are polio, hepatitis B, and rabies. One thing to keep in mind is the “meningitis belt” located in sub-Saharan Africa. There is a significant risk of meningococcal meningitis in this area, which is transmitted from person to person through respiratory secretions (coughs or sneezes) and saliva.

The Bahamas

Hepatitis A and typhoid fever are possible illnesses you may incur when visiting the Bahamas, depending on where you are staying. The main cause is usually contaminated water or food, especially in rural areas or if you plan to eat native foods.


In addition to your routine vaccinations, hepatitis A and typhoid fever are the most common concerns when visiting China. Additionally, hepatitis B, encephalitis, and malaria vaccinations may be considered depending on your travel plans. If you plan to visit Xinjiang province, polio vaccination is recommended, especially if you are doing any kind of humanitarian work.


Most European countries, including the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Norway, have risks for hepatitis A and B, as well as rabies. Talking with your doctor will alleviate any concerns about potential health risks.


The most common afflictions when visiting India are hepatitis A and typhoid fever, most commonly associated with ingestion of contaminated food or water. Other illnesses may include hepatitis B, malaria, or encephalitis. There is also the possibility that rabies is caused by wild dogs, bats, or other mammals.

Mexico City

In addition to the possibility of food and water contamination that can affect you with hepatitis A, hepatitis B, or typhoid fever, malaria is common, especially in hot, humid climates where mosquitoes are prevalent.

South America

Before visiting any of the countries in South America, including Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, and Panama, you should discuss your travel plans and intentions with your doctor. Hepatitis A and typhoid fever are more commonly associated with travel in these areas. Also, hepatitis B, malaria and rabies are a risk, as is yellow fever.

As with any trip outside of the United States, be sure to do your research. It is always recommended to talk to your doctor approximately four to six weeks before your trip. Get your vaccinations and all medications to ensure the best health during your travels and prevent any unwanted illnesses from following you home.

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