Online tools can help PCPs aid patients traveling abroad
Despite the fact that more than 1 billion people travel internationally, few American adults are up-to-date on their recommended vaccinations.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adult vaccination rates remain low. In 2013, pneumococcal vaccination coverage was just 21.2% for adults aged 19 to 64; tetanus vaccinations were 62.9% in adults aged 19 to 49, 64% in adults aged 50 to 64, and 56.4% in adults over age 64; full Tdap coverage was 17.2%; hepatitis A coverage was 9% for adults overall; hepatitis B was 25%; and herpes zoster coverage to prevent shingles was 24.2%. Additionally, HPV coverage was 36.9% in women aged 19 to 26.
In a new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, public health experts recommend travelers visit their physician four weeks to six weeks before planned international travel to make sure they have up-to-date vaccinations. Routine vaccinations like those listed above should certainly be up-to-date, but other vaccinations than might not normally be needed in the United States might be added depending on the individual’s travel plans.
Physicians should be sure to question patients planning international travel about their destination, and review possible health and outbreak warnings for that area. For example, yellow fever is an acute haemorrhagic disease endemic in areas of Africa and Latin America that kills about half of the people it infects. Vaccination against yellow fever is highly effective and lasts for life, but must be given 10 to 30 days before travel.
The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains a database that can be searched by country that details the prevalence of vaccine-preventable conditions across the globe.