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New Ulm Medical Center

NUMC Travel Clinic can help you plan for a safe trip abroad

Planning a trip to an area where you could be at risk of contracting serious illnesses? You can protect yourself by being immunized or taking prophylaxis for certain serious diseases like typhoid, malaria and rabies to name a few.

The earlier you start planning to avoid health risks when you travel abroad, the better, said Sanjay Mishra, MD, who helps staff New Ulm Medical Center’s (NUMC) Travel Clinic.

“Immunizations protect you against contagious diseases,” Mishra said. “But they don’t work instantly. And some can take up to six months for the entire series. That’s why it’s important to give yourself extra time to get what you need.”

Which vaccines do you need?

Once you know your plans, call Beth Gronholz, a nurse at the NUMC Travel Clinic. She will check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel website to see what travel shots and health issues you need to prepare for. Gronholz also will ask several questions about your travel plans, including:

  • Are you traveling to a rural area or city area?
  • Do you plan to stay with friends, relatives or in a hotel zone?
  • What activities will you do while in the area?

Reasons that immunizations are often recommended include: working in a hospital, school or mission; visiting agricultural areas; or going on a safari or river cruise.

Which immunizations you need will also depend on your destination, age, health status, occupation and lifestyle. It helps if you bring your up-to-date immunization records.

“That way, we know exactly what you need,” Gronholz said.

Yellow fever protection a must

If you’re traveling to Africa, Central America or South America, it’s particularly important to be vaccinated against yellow fever. This vaccine is typically unavailable through most health care providers, and must be obtained through an international travel clinic.

“A yellow fever vaccine is good for 10 years,” Gronholz said. “We tell people to keep the card they are given when they are vaccinated in a safe place along with their passport.”

Without that card, you won’t be able to travel to or through a country that has had a yellow fever outbreak, Mishra explained.

Booster a safety precaution

You also should be sure the immunizations you received during childhood are up-to-date.

“In some instances, a booster is recommended, especially when traveling to an area of a known outbreak,” Gronholz said. “Planning ahead for your international travel shots can help assure you will have a safe and pleasant trip.”

To schedule your travel clinic appointment, call 507-217-5011.