How many times have you started planning a vacation and wondered what vaccinations you might need and had no idea where to get the right answers? I had many travel health questions before both trips I took to Mexico with my husband. We definitely didn’t fare very well on our first trip to Cancun because we weren’t prepared!
A great place to start your research about vaccinations and immunizations for the country you’re going to is right on the Shoppers Drug Mart website. It has a lot of good information and even has a questionnaire you can fill out before going in to the store to talk to a pharmacist.
You can even get passport photos done at some locations!
I reached out to my community on twitter to ask them what questions they had about health and travel. Here are the top questions I received, answered by a Shoppers Drug Mart Pharmacist!
What would you recommend most for traveler’s diarrhea?
Prevention is key to avoid Traveler’s diarrhea. One of the most effective methods of prevention is care when choosing foods and water sources. Foods should be thoroughly cooked and served hot, foods at buffets have often been sitting out for hours and can be more subject to contamination. Water should be bottles and sealed, or boiled. Alcohol is safe, but not necessarily ice cubes. A good rule of thumb is, if you can’t cook it, peel it or boil it, forget it.
Traveler’s can also purchase a vaccine called Dukoral, however, it is not effective against all causative agents and therefore should be combined with safe food and water practices.
People always say you should get some immunizations, but is it really necessary?
The necessity of immunizations before travelling depends on many factors. The area of travel, age and health/immune status of the traveler, time of year, activities planned during the trip can all play a role on the requirements. To help determine an individuals risk factors they should be seen by a pharmacist well before the departure date to ensure time for adequate protection if necessary.
What vaccines do you recommend for travel to Puerto Vallarta Mexico?
Up to date routine vaccinations, Hep A/B, depending on current vaccination status. Potentially Dukoral.
Is there need to avoid drinking water in other countries. It’s in cooking/foods/juices etc.?
Absolutely, water should come from reliably purified sources, bottled or boiled for required length of time.
How important / necessary is twinrix?
The importance of Twinrix depends on the area that is being visited and the patients current immune status. Hepatitis A and B prevention is essential for people visiting countries where these diseases are endemic. Hepatitis A can cause significant liver and gastrointestinal issues for people who contract the disease and Hepatitis B can cause permanent liver damage.
Are there any over the counters I should bring that aren’t the same in Caribbean countries?
It can not be guaranteed that any of the medications available in Canada will be the same or even present at all in other countries. You should always travel with a supply of any OTC ( over the counter ) medications that you use regularly or may be necessary to treat things such as diarrhea, etc. while you are away.
What are the best OTC meds to take when travelling to the Caribbean?
Some examples of OTC meds you should have on hand are; pain/fever relievers, antidiarrheals, topical corticosteroids for minor rashes or bug bites, topical antibiotic, antinauseant, antihistamines for allergic reations, etc
Question: where online can we best find out which vaccines are recommended for travel?
A good up to date resource for travel vaccine recommendations include
The CDC Yellowbook
Health Canada Travel Health
How can travelers prepare themselves if they’re concerned about the #ZikaVirus?
Avoid travel to Zika affected areas if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.
Avoid going out when mosquitoes are most active, dawn and dusk
Wear loose fitting, light colored clothing .
Use insect repellents when outside. Be sure to apply properly.
Use mosquito netting if sleeping outside.
What are some tips or tricks to prevent / deal with motion sickness on long drives?
Before you travel:
Avoid eating a large meal within 3 hours of travel. Avoid dairy products and foods high in salt, calories or protein.
While you are travelling:
Try to get cool fresh air by opening air vents or using air conditioning. Avoid alcohol, smoking and disagreeable odors. Avoid reading and watching videos. Focus on the horizon or an object that does not move outside the car, plane or boat. Try pressing your head into the headrest. On a boat, try to stay in the middle. In a vehicle, sit in the front seat with a clear forward view.
One can also try taking Gravol, using scopolamine patches or special wrist bands to prevent nausea.
Can you get just a Hepatitis A shot rather than the combined twinrix?
There is a vaccine for Hepatitis A called Havrix.
Don’t forget to go to the Shoppers Drug Mart website to find a pharmacist that can answer your questions close to your location.
Disclosure: I was compensated by Shoppers Drug Mart for this post, however my opinions in it are my own. I always recommend talking to your doctor before taking any medications or vaccinations.