Chances are you’ve prepared a summer vacation trip to take a breather from the hustle and bustle of Atlanta living. It’s what we all need every once in a while, but preparing for a trip overseas to a region with a variety of diseases can leave you wondering, “Will I be safe?”

Joel Rosenstock, Chief Medical Officer with Absolute Care Medical Center says yes. But it’s all about knowing what you need for where you’re going. “Most people who are thinking about traveling overseas think about getting their shots,” says Rosenstock. “In fact, shots are probably the least important of the things you need to pay attention to.”

The most important thing to remember is safe food and water. “What you eat is what generally makes you sick when going to the third world,” he says. Bottled and canned drinks are safe along with hot drinks that are served steaming hot. Pasteurized milk from a sealed bottle and alcohol are safe as well. Avoid tap water and fountain drinks and avoid ice in developing countries.

When it comes to food, raw meats or fish can put you at risk for foodborne illnesses and steering away from street foods can reduce your risk for an illness. Hot food and packaged food are usually safe to consume.

While you may be playing it safe with consuming food and drinks while on your vacation, staying healthy on your trip starts well before you step on your flight. Immunizations can protect you from a wide range of diseases depending on where you’re traveling.

“If you’re traveling to the Caribbean the advice is much less mandatory, or at least urged, than if you’re traveling on a safari in South Africa,” says Rosenstock. “One size doesn’t fit all.”

He notes that people should pay attention to five major immunizations.

“People should be immunized to Hepatitis A,” he says. “If you’re going to a luxury hotel, your food is being handled by people who live in the slums of that city.”

Typhoid is the second of the major immunizations and is offered for Africa, Southeast Asia, and parts of the Middle East. “The next immunization is Yellow Fever, and is an Africa and South America requirement,” he says. “It’s a jungle mosquito that passes Yellow Fever. It’s one immunization that’s mandated by the World Health Organization.”

The fourth immunization Rosenstock says should be on your list is polio. “We like to make sure everybody’s polio shot is up to date if they’re going to Central Africa or the Middle East,” he says. Tetanus is the last immunization and should be up-to-date every ten years.

If you’re counting down the days until your big trip, Rosenstock says don’t wait for your immunizations. You can make an appointment with Absolute Care to get your immunizations or if you have any questions about the requirements for your specific travel destination.

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