Getting started with vaccines

This post is at best very simple and is intended just to get us thinking about travel-related vaccinations. After all is said and done, defer to the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the advice of your experienced Travel Medicine Clinicians.

First thing to notice on the CDC website is that these are all recommendations rather than requirements for travel. There may be one exception: Yellow Fever. If you are entering Indonesia from another country where Yellow Fever is a risk, then you must present proof of vaccination. If you are travelling from the United States to Indonesia, the vaccine is not required.

The CDC suggests that “to have the most benefit, see a health-care provider at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for your vaccines to take effect and to start taking medicine to prevent malaria, if you need it.” The 4-6 week time frame will allow you to get most of the recommended coverage (but not all!) Hepatitis B, for example, is a three-vaccination series, with the final vaccine received after 6 months.

Routine vaccinations – especially Tetanus – as well as both Hepatitis A and Typhoid are no brainers. Simply stated, Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccines protect you from infectious organisms that you inadvertently place in your mouth.

Japanese Encephalitis and Rabies are a little less straight-forward as their likelihood is quite low.

The CDC describes Japanese Encephalitis as the most common vaccine-preventable cause of encephalitis in Asia. On the other hand, the overall incidence of Japanese Encephalitis among people from non-endemic countries traveling to Asia is estimated to be less than 1 case per 1 million travelers. (My choice – I’m getting vaccinated because of the vector, the mosquito, and there will be many.)

Rabies is recommended for travelers spending a lot of time outdoors, especially in rural areas, involved in activities such as bicycling, camping, or hiking. The vaccine is also recommended for travelers involved in any activities that might bring them into direct contact with bats, carnivores, and other mammals. (My choice – I’m not getting vaccinated. Note: a 2008-present rabies outbreak in Bali continues to be a threat & should be considered if you plan an extended stay in that area.)

Malaria – West Papua is affected by malaria, and it will be important to protect yourself appropriately. The CDC offers excellent information regarding malaria and a variety of anti-malarial medications. (My choice in the past – Doxycycline, as it is easy to administer and low impact on the body.)



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s