This Won’t Hurt a Bit – Travel Vaccinations
By: Mike Argyle

You’ve booked your flight and your hotel booked. Your passport is updated and you have the time off work booked. Your neighbour is feeding the cat and you’re pretty sure if it dies when you’re away, he won’t replace it without you knowing – but if he did, whatever… new cat! Wicked, all ready to go, right?

Not so fast captain ignorance!

Colonel Buzzkill is here to remind you, as your superior officer, that you may want to look into your personal safety before departure. A few simple things can do a world of good for your adventures, like travel insurance, money belts and of course vaccinations.

Why do you need injections before visiting some places? Let’s take a trip back to high school history class and human migration, so take a knee. Just as certain animals and plants grow in certain areas, so too do viruses and diseases. This doesn’t mean you can’t get all these fun illnesses if you stay at home, as they will find you (take 2009’s H1N1 outbreak and basically every other flu in the history of the world), but going to new places exposes your body to things it can’t handle. Malaria is a threat in certain areas but you might not need it depending on your activity or length of stay while some countries just want a tuberculosis test done for a visa.

It works the opposite way too. Don’t forget, when you go to a new place you are bringing all the illnesses your body can handle to a new place where the people may not be so lucky. Most of the America’s First Nation’s people wiped out during European settlement were severely affected by foreign viruses. You don’t know what is hidden in your clothes or the products you bring with you, which is why there are restrictions on bringing back fresh food or animal products.

That’s not to say every place you go to will require shots, but the more remote and different the location, the more likely you will need them. It also depends on what you’re going to be doing while traveling, as sometimes all you will need are booster shots.

If in doubt, ask your travel agent or check the embassy’s website of the country you’re traveling to. It will depend on where you are from, so do your best to stay informed. Not doing so can result in a few days with a rash, refusal of entry to your destination, quarantine, death or worse. What’s worse than death? How about a pandemic?

Be smart. Get your shots.