If you are planning to travel outside the United States whether for vacation,
business, education or a mission trip, local health officials suggest making sure you
are up-to-date with your vaccinations and checking to see if there are specific
vaccinations required for your destination.
The Knox County Health Department recently announced it is now offering travel
vaccines. The health department has offered routine vaccinations – sometimes
referred to as immunizations – for many years. The addition of travel vaccines
came about due to increased requests from local residents and lack of availability
locally. “Every year we get requests from students and faculty going abroad to
study, parishioners going on mission trips and residents traveling beyond the
United States for vacation,” said Lorraine Bratton, director of nursing for the
health department. “In the past we had to send them outside of the county. Now we
can help them closer to home.”
Routine vaccines are the standard child and adult immunizations recommended for
the general U.S. population, most of them are required to attend public school.
Recommended vaccines are travel vaccinations that can protect you in areas where
there is an intermediate or high risk for contracting certain illnesses. They also help
prevent the spread of diseases from one country to another. Required vaccines are
those mandated by government and health officials for travel to certain countries or
specific areas. You can visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
website (cdc.gov) to learn exactly which travel vaccinations are recommended
and/or required for each country. You can also call the health department and
Bratton or one of her staff can help navigate the requirements.
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For more information, contact Pam Palm,
740-507-6533 or ppalm @knoxhealth.com 11660 Upper Gilchrist Rd. Mount Vernon, OH 43050
PH 740-392-2200 Fax 740-392-9613
Page 2 – Health department now offering travel vaccines
“Getting vaccinated will help keep you safe and healthy while you’re traveling. It
will also help make sure that you don’t bring any serious diseases home to your
family, friends, and community”, said Bratton. The local measles outbreak from
2014 was the result of an unvaccinated traveler on a mission trip returning from a
country where there was an outbreak.
“Whenever you are in a foreign country, you’re putting yourself at risk for the
diseases and infections that reside there,” said Bratton. “It doesn’t matter whether
you’re staying at an expensive resort or a backpacker hostel.”
Among the vaccines offered to local travelers are those for hepatitis A, hepatitis B,
tetanus, typhoid, malaria, polio, meningitis, Japanese encephalitis and rabies. One
vaccine that won’t be available locally anytime soon is the one for yellow fever
which is in short supply due to an outbreak in South America. However, Bratton
said she has information on other clinics in Ohio where the vaccine is available
It’s important to get vaccinated at least four to six weeks before you travel. This
will give the vaccines time to start working, so you’re protected while you’re
traveling. It will also ensure there’s enough time for you to get vaccines that
require more than one dose.
Many insurances do not cover the cost of the vaccines because they are considered
a “luxury” according to Bratton. She advises checking with your insurance to see
what is covered.
Bratton also recommends traveling with a copy of your immunization record. You
should keep the list with your passport, and update it with any new shots you get,
because immigration officials in some countries will want to see it.
It’s also a good idea to talk with your doctor regarding current medications. Some
medications may reduce the effectiveness of travel vaccinations and some
vaccinations can interfere with certain prescriptions, such as birth control pills
“The important thing is to educate yourself as much as possible and follow any
precautions carefully,” said Bratton. “The educated traveler will be a healthy and
happy traveler and will travel again."
For more information or to make an appointment to get a travel vaccine at the
Knox County Health Department, call 740-392-2200, ext. 2235 or ext. 2249.