Travelers' Health: Resources and Best Practices
During times of disease outbreak, as with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), travelers have an especially urgent need for trusted health information they can use to make travel decisions. But experts say that any time you’re planning international travel, you should find out if there are any recommended health measures you should take before leaving. Will you need vaccinations? Should you bring anti-malarial medication? Does your health insurance provide coverage overseas?
A good place to start is with your personal physician, who knows your medical history and can offer personalized recommendations for healthy travel. “Ask your doctor what vaccines and medicines you need based on where you are going, how long you are staying, what you will be doing, and if you are traveling from a country other than the United States,” advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).1
Then, look to the CDC, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the U.S. Department of State for the latest health information for travelers. Here are some of the resources you’ll find on their websites:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
On the CDC website, you’ll find the latest travel information related to COVID-19, as well as FAQ for travelers, outbreak updates, and resources for healthcare and public health professionals.
From the Travelers’ Health web page, you can click your way around the CDC’s world of travel health information. Search by destination to discover health notices, vaccine and medicine requirements and recommendations, location-specific “healthy travel” packing lists, and much more.
Planning a visit to Easter Island? The CDC says all travelers should be up to date on routine vaccinations and most travelers should get the typhoid and hepatitis A vaccines.1 Heading to Norway? CDC-recommended vaccinations for some travelers include hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and for spelunkers and researchers who may encounter bats, rabies.2
The CDC, of course, is a top source of travel health information for clinicians and public health professionals. Students in public health degree programs may find data that is relevant to many areas of their study. For health professionals caring for international travelers, the CDC offers the Yellow Book. This biennial publication includes the most current travel health information, recommendations, data, and guidelines, with updates posted online.
World Health Organization
WHO’s international travel and health resources include in-depth fact sheets on food safety, malaria, and other hazards travelers may encounter. “All travelers must prepare for the variety of health risks they can be exposed to in unfamiliar environments before, during, and after they travel,” WHO cautions.3
WHO is also a good source for learning about best travel practices, which include:4
- Contact a travel medicine center or a physician, preferably 4–8 weeks before departure, to receive any required vaccinations.
- Request information on malaria risk and prevention of mosquito bites.
- Purchase medical insurance with appropriate coverage abroad.
- During travel, eat only thoroughly cooked food and drink only bottled or packaged cold drinks.
- Be aware of accidents or problems related to traffic, animals, allergies, sun, and sport.
- Carry a card showing your blood group.
- Wear a medical alert bracelet, if you have allergies or a chronic disease.
U.S. Department of State
“Know before you go,” the state department advises—and you can use the tools it provides to do just that. Search by country to learn about travel advisories, which may be linked to public health threats. In some situations, the information is well-publicized, as in the case of the Feb. 2, 2020 “do not travel” edict issued for China due to the COVID-19 outbreak.5 Other advisories may be more obscure, so be sure to enter your destination into the search box.
Your Health Abroad is a resource that offers guidance on topics that include traveling with prescription medication, finding a doctor or hospital abroad, and considerations for older travelers.
Road safety is a sometimes-overlooked health consideration for international travelers. Road traffic injury—occurring while in a vehicle or on foot or a bicycle—is a leading cause of death globally.6 And according to the CDC, road-related accidents are the No. 1 cause of preventable death in healthy U.S. travelers.7 The state department offers driving and road safety advice. And you can learn more about international road safety from the CDC, too.
From Public Health Degree to Public Health Career
With a public health degree, you can join the dedicated public health professionals, clinicians, and community health workers building robust communities for residents and travelers alike. Earning a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree online can position you for a career as a disease investigator, educator, or public health emergency preparedness and response coordinator. Public health careers also include global health professional, epidemiologist, and health policy advisor, to name a few.
Because public health professionals face new challenges daily, it’s important to choose a public health graduate program that will connect you to the most current issues and research. Walden University’s MPH program curriculum does that and more. When earning Walden’s Master of Public Health degree, you’ll gain foundational knowledge while working in a cutting-edge online environment. Your curriculum will feature case studies on the latest public health issues, in courses that include Global Perspectives on Health and Environmental Health: Local to Global.
Walden’s MPH program is accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH). That’s your assurance that the program meets accepted public health profession standards in practice, research, and service.
If you are interested in other online public health degrees, you’ll find Walden has a number of options. In addition to the MPH degree program, Walden offers BS in Public Health, PhD in Public Health, and Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) programs.
Jobs in public health can take you around the world or into the community of your choice. Wherever your travels may take you, may you go in good health, and use your passion for social change to promote good health for others.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering public health graduate programs including the Master of Public Health (MPH). Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
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