travel vaccines

I mentioned a while back that we recently reconnected with a former neighbor who happens to be Ethiopian. [We also just ran into her Sunday night while out to dinner, which was fun!] M also happens to be a physician specializing in infectious diseases, so we thought she would be great to talk to about the vaccines we should get prior to traveling to Ethiopia.

When we had dinner a few weeks ago, I actually simply made a comment to her that someday over the next several months we’d like to talk with her about travel vaccines, but she just jumped right in and started rattling off her recommended list. We can always use the CDC’s recommendations (virtually identical to her list), but I was glad to hear what she thought as well.

Here’s M’s list:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow Fever – This is the one I see most debated regarding travel to Ethiopia, because apparently the mosquitoes that carry Yellow Fever do not live at the high elevation in Addis Ababa (which is 7700 feet above sea level). However, we will be visiting other parts of the country on a birth family visit, and we have also heard of families having a hard time with customs on this issue (so has M).
  • Polio – I didn’t know this, but apparently those of us who were vaccinated against polio decades ago may have lost immunity, so we should get a booster.
  • Meningitis – This depends on the time of year we will travel, as the season for this is between December and June.
  • MMR and tetanus – We will make sure these are up to date.
  • Malaria – We will take anti-malarial oral medication with us.
  • We will also take some antibiotics with us and other things (Imodium, electrolyte replacement powders, etc.) that can help with… ahem… digestive track issues.

Craig and I had some of these vaccines prior to our trip to Thailand in 2006. However, we are pretty sure Craig did not finish the Hepatitis series, and we also need to check our records to see exactly which vaccines we received. I’m fairly certain that we had the Typhoid vaccine. Our current plan is to ask our physicians to do titers when we go for our annual physicals (which will be required to update our home study) to check which things we have immunity for, and then get working on the vaccinations we still need.

I know that vaccines are a controversial issue at times, but we’re pretty confident that we’d much rather have the vaccines than get sick with any of these diseases.

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9 Responses to travel vaccines

  1. Amy says:

    Hi Kelly — just a FYI about either Hepatitis vaccination series….you (or Craig) do not have to restart the series, just continue where you left off. A lot of docs don’t know this (a general rule for all vaccines with the exception of typhoid I believe). I just don’t want either of you to have to restart anything. Good luck!!!

  2. Christine says:

    Oh my!! That is *quite* a list!

  3. Yikes! that’s a HUGE list! Better start toughening up your arms now 🙂

  4. Liz says:

    I actually just finished up the Hep A series a couple of weeks ago!

    Depending on when you travel, you might want to also get a flu shot – I had never gotten one before, but my doctor recommended it since I would be in contact with small children at the height of flu season.

  5. Michelle Oryl says:

    We needed all these for Tanazania as well. Also a hard-core antibiotic is definitely a must, just in case. Better safe than sorry Michael ended up getting horribly ill from a meal we had and was down for the count. The only thing that helped was an Ambien so he could rest peacefully.

  6. Krista says:

    Girl – your arm is going to be sore!

  7. Kelly says:

    Wow – that is a lot. You are very good at educating yourself and how nice to have an Ethiopian who is a doctor of infectious disease to consult with!

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