This is the second post in my series on the preparation required to study abroad. My last post discussed choosing a study abroad program. After you choose a study abroad program it is essential that you look into the requirements for entering the country you plan to visit. Usually, the study abroad office at your school will have recommendations on steps to take after being admitted to the program of your choosing, and that is why I made an appointment with a travel nurse. That’s right, there are nurses whose full-time job is to advise travelers on the preventative medical measures they should take as well as prescribe any necessary vaccines or medication specific to their destination.
Navigating preventative travel medicine.
When traveling out of the country it is important to check the CDC in order to find not only the required vaccinations for entering any given country but to see what diseases you are at risk of contracting while abroad and what preventative measures to take. Chances are if you are from America and are going to a European country you won’t need any additional vaccinations from those administered in childhood, but it doesn’t hurt to check the CDC and see if there is an ongoing outbreak of any disease in your destination. After checking the CDC’s website for Travelers’ Health I learned that the only vaccination required to enter the People’s Republic of China is Yellow Fever, and that is only if you are coming from a country with a known risk of Yellow Fever, which the United States is not. However, the CDC still recommends that Americans traveling to China be immunized against several other diseases, so I made an appointment with a travel nurse at my campus’ medical center to discuss what preventative medical measures I should take. One mistake I made when I attended my appointment was that I forgot to bring my shot records. We were still able to come up with a treatment plan, but it was all dependent on information that was not in her hands and could change once she actually saw my records. I would need four vaccinations before leaving and take an anti-malaria drug for the entirety of my stay. The cost of all these medications quickly added up to close to $1000 and I had only planned on needing around $300 in necessary medications. If I had known before looking for funding just how much the necessary preventative medicine cost, I would have made a few different decisions, like working and saving more. But in the long run, I know this medicine will prevent debilitating and lifelong diseases that would require far more than $1000 for treatment. Another important factor to consider when arranging for vaccinations is the amount of time needed to pass between the administration of a drug and the exposure to the disease, or if a medication requires several rounds or shots over a long period of time you need to start the treatment process according to that schedule and your date of entry. My travel nurse was also able to give me some general tips on how to stay healthy in the region I am traveling to, such as which foods to avoid and what bug spray to bring.
- Look at the CDC’s web page for Travelers’ Health when planning a trip out of the country.
- Make an appointment with a travel nurse and discuss what lifestyle choices, medications, and vaccinations you need to stay healthy, and don’t forget to have your shot records in hand!
- Plan for extra costs when it comes to preventative medicine.
- Make sure you start the treatment process early enough so that you are safely immunized by the time you leave.
- Preventative medicine is worth it. You can either pay a couple hundred dollars for anti-malaria medication or risk being hospitalized and possibly dying, as well as spreading the disease and endangering the lives of others.