Getting a vaccination is something you’ve probably done already.

Remember that childhood trip to the doctor?

The one with the (hopefully) nice nurse, who gave you a lollipop at the end? Her endless patience may have saved you from getting tetanus, or some other nasty disease you don’t really hear about anymore.

How’s that?

She gave you a vaccination. Vaccinations are standard procedure here in the United States.

They’re also important to look into when moving abroad. Read on to explore the science behind vaccinations, and which ones you may need to get before your trip.

Vaccinations: What They are, and Why You Need Them

There’s been a lot of media scrutiny surrounding the subject of vaccines lately. So what are the facts?

What Exactly is a Vaccine?

The vaccine definition isn’t hard to pin down.

A vaccine is something that prepares your immune system to fight of harmful pathogens and germs that cause a variety of different diseases. The variety of different vaccines you get help your body to prepare for different diseases.

How does it Work?

The vaccines you get function as training for your body to fight off diseases.

They contain versions of the pathogens that cause deadly diseases like measles and whooping cough — but don’t fret! The injections themselves don’t cause these diseases to manifest.

They contain dead or weakened pathogens, which won’t cause any harm in a person with a fully functioning immune system. Instead, your body learns how to fight off these diseases.

Then, when the real pathogen invades your body, you won’t have any trouble fighting it off.

Why You Need Vaccinations

Vaccines protect you by immunizing you against certain diseases. According to the Center for Disease Control, vaccines are responsible for vastly reducing the cases of diseases such as polio and diphtheria we see each year.

Were we to stop vaccinating as a society, we would see these diseases come back. Live Science explains that the incredible elongation of the human lifespan during the 20th century (from 49 years in 1901 to 77 years by 1999) is largely due to the development of vaccines.

Why New Vaccinations Are Important When Moving Abroad

So you understand why you need to get vaccinated here at home.

But why should you get vaccinated again when you leave? There are two main reasons.

Protect Yourself with Pre-Travel Vaccinations

New and exciting countries mean new and exciting diseases. Diseases you might not even think about here in the United States can pose a huge risk abroad.

Vaccinations have already been developed for some of them, like Yellow Fever and Typhoid. However, you won’t normally get these vaccinations living on United States soil because these diseases don’t affect us stateside.

If you go to a country where yellow fever is common, you need to protect yourself with a yellow fever vaccine — it’s as simple as that. Otherwise, you have a much higher chance of actually contracting this disease.

Protect Your Home Country

Another consequence of traveling abroad is what you may bring back with you.

If you contract a disease abroad, you may bring it back to the United States. Say you get sick, and you must come home. That means you’ll be coming home with that disease!

Especially if that disease is one we don’t routinely vaccinate against, you’ll be putting the entire community at risk.

Even if you don’t get sick, you may be a carrier of the disease. This means you won’t have any symptoms, but you’ll still be able to spread it around. So get vaccinated!

How to Know Which Vaccinations You Might Need for Your Move Abroad

So which vaccinations do you need?

You have to make sure you have all your United States recommended vaccines first, and then do a bit of digging into your destination.

Always Get Your Boosters

First of all, you need to check your own immunization history and find out if you’re overdue for any vaccine boosters, or if you’ve missed out on some vaccines.

Some diseases we vaccinate against are quite rare here. So it might seem as if you’re justified in slipping up and forgetting your rabies booster.

However, these diseases may be quite common in other countries, so you’ll have a higher chance of contracting them abroad.

Research Your Destination

Check the travel page of the CDC to input all the information on your trip like where you’re going and how long you’ll stay. Depending on your destination, the CDC has a regularly updated list of vaccine requirements you should follow.

You can also do your own research by asking fellow travelers and those who have gone before you which diseases are common there.

The CDC recommends visiting the doctor at least 4-6 weeks before your travel date to get vaccinated.

Vaccinations Help You and Everyone Else

Not only do vaccinations protect you, they protect your family and friends as well!

Make sure to travel the smart way and stay up-to-date on all your vaccinations. This will ensure a safe journey into your new life abroad.

Image via Natural News

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