I am so excited to be heading to El Salvador today with Austin Smiles, a wonderful organization that gives the gift of a beautiful smile to people born with cleft lips or palates. Check out our blog and Facebook page!
If you are planning to international travel, start your medical planning for the trip well in advance- ideally six months ahead, and check out the CDC Traveler’s Advice page. Simply select your destination country, and you will see all the current medical recommendations for your travel. Please note that often vaccinations are recommended that may require more than one dose, so you may need to get started on your shots 4-6 months before you leave! For example, if you are headed to Central America and have not been immunized against Hepatitis A, this vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart.
In addition to vaccine recommendations, the CDC also gives you a handy medical check list that includes site specific prevention for issues such as travelers diarrhea, malaria, and altitude sickness. Advice for lodging and general safety issues (depending on the political climate, etc.) are also included.
Remember to see your family doctor well in advance of your trip, so you can have plenty of time to get any prescriptions you might need- whether it’s medication for motion sickness, flight anxiety, or traveler’s diarrhea. Think about the timing of your regular prescriptions, especially if you have medications that are filled monthly at your local pharmacy. Especially in summertime (on Fridays, at 4:59pm!) primary care doctors are swamped with panicked phone calls from patients requesting medications to be called in urgently to pharmacies, from birth control to blood pressure to actual travel destination-related antibiotics or other drugs…and that doesn’t work well for anyone. Medical planning should happen at the same time you secure your passport, because neither of these processes can or should be rushed in the final hours.
BOTTOM LINE: For international travel, START EARLY with planning your medical prevention!