Travelling South – To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate?

April 18, 2017

Before heading to my first 1 week all-inclusive down South, I posed this vaccination question to my peeps on Facebook:

In March, Mom, me and my sissies are ditching part of the long Newfoundland winter and heading to the Dominican [weeehoooo!]…what are your thoughts on getting the recommended vaccines? Would you go without getting them? Not sure how I feel about the whole vaccine thing.

 

This is what I found in the first google article that popped up:

“All children and adults should be current on their routine vaccines, including a recent Tdap, flu vaccine, and a complete MMR series. You should also get protected from chickenpox either through vaccination or a prior case of chickenpox.  Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for all travelers to the Dominican Republic. You may want to consider typhoid vaccine if you will be leaving the resorts for more rustic eateries or visiting local residents.”

 

Opinions: About 60 fine FB folks took the time to give me advice, tips, facts and opinions on this question.  Of those people that provided an opinion about getting vaccinations when travelling abroad, 54 out of 60 (90%) recommended getting vaccinated and/or said they do get them.  Only 9 people said either they didn’t get vaccinated before travelling and were fine and/or advised against getting any vaccines.

Specifics: 23 of the 60 people specifically suggested the TwinRix vaccine to protect from hepatitis A and B. Remember, you’ll need 3 vaccine doses for full protection so leave plenty of time, something like 6 months beforehand (though you can fast-track the schedule).

8 FB friends praised the Dukoral vaccine – which is a drinkable vaccine to protect you from traveler’s diarrhea (specifically, caused by E.coli – ick!)

Remember this Sex and the City scene?
When Charlotte got the trots? Hahaha!!

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Quick fix: 6 FB friends recommended bringing along a dose of just-in-case antibiotics, such as Cipro, in case you are struck down with the “tourist trots” or some sort of infection.  Sounds like a good thing to bring but hopefully not have to use.  Other people suggested making sure your tetanus shot is up to date, flu shot, the boosters for MMR, DPT. Get your prescription from your doctor filled before you go.

Other precautions: Aside from getting vaccinated, there any many things you can do to prevent getting sick:  drinking only water from sealed bottles, brush your teeth with bottled water, maybe even keeping your mouth and eyes closed in the shower.  Remember you can also pick up hepatitis from the ice in your drinks and fruit and veg washed in water.  Some suggest keeping up a steady supply of alcohol – there must be some medicinal effects, right? 😉

Travel insurance: Travel medical insurance is a good idea! You’d be surprised where you can purchase – through CAA, work benefit plans, some credit cards (eg travel points), union, etc.

Conclusion: At the end of the day, it’s a personal choice.  Educate yourself and make an informed decision.  Research where you’re going!  Risk varies depending on where you’re going and what you’ll be doing when you’re there (e.g. going off resort). A visit to a travel clinic (like this one in St. John’s) will provide you with a great deal of info, specific to where you’re going and risk factors, including the vaccines themselves, and proactive steps you can take (not just vaccines) to reduce your risks. Most of all, being informed and comfortable about your decision will go far in ensuring you have peace of mind/stress free vacation while you’re lounging about in the sun, eating yummy seafood on a catamaran, etc. all while not having to spend hours on the toilet in your hotel room (if you’re lucky its not somewhere else!).

What did I decide to do? 

I am not a big prescription drug fan and I don’t trust the drug industry as far as I can throw them, so after much inner debate, I decided to not get any vaccinations. Mostly because it was a 4 star resort in the Dominican which seemed to be a low-risk zone and as well, I am a healthy sort anyways. I got my travellers trots pills from my doctor before I left, which I thankfully never had to use. They had bottled water in the rooms and the water and ice served on the resort was good to go so everything worked out just fine! Mindset helps too – go with a good attitude and don’t be a freak like Charlotte was…that’s just asking for it 😉

When you went down South, did you have any good, bad or funny experiences you’d like to share? Comment below…

Beyond vaccines, in my blog article Newfoundland to Dominican – Sunscreen, Cash & Beware I also compiled the info I received about how to max my vacay time down south as well as things I learned on our trip…and of course some pics 🙂

kapb_headshot_-_rounded_cornersArtist Keli-Ann Pye-Beshara – Experience Newfoundland & life through my artist eyes. Born and raised here on this big rock in the Atlantic Ocean. After my Fine Arts degree and Interior Decorating, lived away for ages. In 2009 moved back with new appreciation for this place. Come hang out and explore with me. Sign up for your Piece of Pye newsletter & art prizes!

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