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Before vacation, visit MultiCare Express for travel vaccinations

Posted on Jul. 30, 2012 ( comments)
Photo by James Gathany/CDC

If your vacation plans will take you outside the U.S., you’ll want to ensure you’re up to date on all travel vaccinations that are recommended – or even required – for some destinations.

Travel vaccinations are now available at the MultiCare Express clinic in Lakewood, and no appointment is necessary. Responding to a community need, the MultiCare walk-in clinic inside Rite-Aid started offering travel vaccinations this spring because there were few places in the area where people could get travel vaccinations and consultations.

If you already have travel plans, it’s best to get an early start on the vaccination process. To become fully effective in the body, most vaccinations take four to six weeks. But even if you’re flight leaves sooner than that, you will still benefit from some protection.

Which vaccinations you need depend on where you’re going. A consultation with an expert at the MultiCare Express Lakewood can help give you an idea what you need.

For example, typhoid is most commonly found in Latin America, Asia and Africa. Japanese encephalitis is found mostly in certain parts of Asia. Yellow fever is common in parts of South America and Africa.

In fact, yellow fever vaccination is the only vaccine required by International Health Regulations for travel to certain countries in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meningococcal vaccination is required by the government of Saudi Arabia for annual travel during the Hajj, the CDC says.

Diseases that are less common in the United States may be more prevalent oversea, so in addition to travel vaccinations, vacationers should check if they’re current on their routine immunizations, such as Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis), MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A and Polio. Even for patients who are considered healthy, most providers recommend getting all the necessary vaccinations recommended by the CDC. These routine vaccinations are also available at the MultiCare Express clinic.

As the CDC notes on its travel website, “In the United States, measles was declared eliminated in 2000 due to high vaccination coverage and effective public health response. That means measles no longer occurs year round in the United States. However, measles is still common in some parts of Europe, Asia, the Pacific, and Africa. Travelers who have not been vaccinated are at risk of getting the disease and spreading it to their friends and family members who may not be up to date with vaccinations. Because of this risk, all travelers should be up to date on their vaccinations, regardless of where they are going. Measles is one of the most contagious diseases, and even domestic travelers may be exposed on airplanes or in airports.”

Children who are traveling should be up to date on routine vaccinations, but the MultiCare Express clinics provide vaccinations only to patients age 19 and older. For more about vaccinations for children, visit the Mary Bridge Mobile Immunization Clinic or call 253-403-1767.

For adult travelers, an initial 20-minute pre-travel consultation at the MultiCare Express clinics allows the patient to discuss travel plans with a provider, and decide which vaccinations are needed. The person returns three days later to receive the vaccinations. Additionally, a provider may offer the traveler a prescription for Cipro, which is often used to treat traveler’s diarrhea.

All of the travel vaccinations require a one-time dose, but other medications require multiple doses, such as for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B. Most major insurances cover travel vaccinations, but state insurance does not.

For more about staying healthy during international travel, including information about traveling with infants or children, visit the CDC’s travel website.

John Ward is an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner who practices at the MultiCare Express Lakewood. An ARNP is a registered nurse (RN) with advanced education and training, who provides personalized, primary health care to patients. In addition to assessing, examining, and treating patients, Nurse Practitioners advocate health promotion and disease prevention.

Posted in: Clinics

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John Ward, ARNP
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