Immunization from diseases can be achieved through vaccination shots, which use small amounts of killed or weakened microorganisms that cause the diseases. This helps our immune system to develop antibodies—much as it would if it was fighting off the true disease — that will protect the patient from this particular illness in the long term.
Many diseases that used to cause serious illness and even death are rare today because of routine immunizations. Diseases such as polio, measles and pertussis infected thousands of people every year, leaving some of the stricken permanently disabled and killing others. When you immunize, you greatly reduce or eliminate your chance of developing that specific disease.
Some of the vaccines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include:
- Hepatitis A and B – which protect against these potentially serious liver diseases
- Pneumococcal vaccine – to protect against pneumonia, meningitis and certain blood infections
- Tetanus – usually in the form of DTaP or Tdap, to protect against this disease that causes pain and muscle stiffness and can be fatal
- Influenza – to protect against developing the flu, must be given annually to vaccinate for the specific strains that are circulating each year
People who did not receive a full dosage of any recommended vaccine, age and waning immunity are all factors that can necessitate an immunization. One important vaccination for adults who are at least 60 years old is the herpes zoster. This immunization can protect against shingles, a painful skin condition triggered by infection with the same virus that causes chickenpox.
Anticoagulation therapy is used in those patients with heart defects or at risk for developing blood clots. It is generally taken as an oral medication to thin the blood. Your doctor will provide a regimen that includes the regular use of either aspirin or a prescription drug such as clopidogrel or warfarin. Each of these can produce side effects and may cause bleeding problems, so it is essential to remain in a physician’s care for periodic monitoring.
International travel is an exciting prospect, especially if you are visiting a place you have never been before. However, there are health issues that may be present in some foreign destinations that we do not commonly face in the United States. For that reason, it is essential to seek pre-travel health advice from your physician in order to ensure that you take all necessary medical preparations before your trip. Vaccinations to protect you from diseases common in other countries can keep you healthy and happy while on your trip. These are not routine immunizations you would have received from your primary care physician, so it’s essential to see a specialist, who has expertise about exactly what precautions are necessary for the specific locale you will be visiting.