Health & Vaccines

ZIKA:  

The current health risk that so many pregnant women or soon-to-be pregnant women are worried about is still a risk (August, 2017), and it has spread.  While it is advised that pregnant or soon-to-be pregnant women avoid these areas, if you must travel to a zika zone, take precautions such as covering exposed skin, wearing bug spray, and sleeping with a mosquito net.  It can also be passed through sperm so men need to take precautions as well.  Check out this link for a map of current zika areas and information about it or check here for a list of countries published by the Canadian government where Zika is currently a concern.  There is apparently a zika vaccine in development but it is not available to the general public yet.  

MALARIA:  

Malaria medication is an iffy subject because these medications can potentially have severe side effects and you need to weigh the pros and cons of taking the medication against the risk of contracting malaria (this is my personal opinion, talk to your doctor or travel clinic about your specific needs).  I highly recommend checking a malaria risk map like this one from the WHO which shows the actual (reported) incidence number by country (although this specific map doesn't look like it's been updated since 2014).  If there is some risk but it's small, I tend not to take the medication (but I bring it with me as a 'just in case I get it' measure).  If the risk is high, I am more likely to take it.  Always discuss with your doctor and/or travel clinic before making any decisions.

TRAVEL INSURANCE:  

Is a must!  Do not leave home without it.  That way, if you get sick or something happens you will be covered (fall off a bicycle, get hit by a car, trip on a curb and break an arm, get into a scooter accident, etc etc etc).  Double check before you purchase exactly what you will be covered for, as many do not cover things like ATV rentals or bungee jumping or other potentially "dangerous" activities.

VACCINES:  

Do your research and find out if there are specific vaccines you will require for the region you will be visiting.  Some countries REQUIRE proof of specific vaccines before they will grant you a visa or upon arrival in their country (for example, I had to have my yellow fever certificate with me at all times when I visited Tanzania).  Keep in mind that some vaccines require weeks or months before they become effective, and may require a booster, so know what you need and when to get it. The Canadian government provides information about recommended and required vaccines that is searchable by destination here. 

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