Planning a trip to Central America can be so exciting. Whether you're about to visit Panama, Costa Rica, or another country, you have a lot of preparation to do — and that preparation needs to include some immunizations. Here are the key immunizations to discuss with your doctor before a trip to Central America.
Most people in the United States are vaccinated for measles when they are very young. However, the immunity you get from that vaccine may fade as you grow older. Since measles is much more common in some Central American countries than in the U.S., you may need a booster shot before you travel. Your doctor can take a blood sample and measure your level of antibodies to measles to determine whether or not you need this vaccine.
Hepatitis A is a viral disease that affects the liver. It can be spread through food and water, and this sometimes happens in Central American countries where the public health and food preparation standards are not as high. It is very important to be vaccinated for Hepatitis A before traveling since the symptoms, which include vomiting, abdominal pain, and jaundice can be quite severe. Hepatitis A is also very contagious, and you don't want to risk infecting your family and friends because you failed to get a vaccine.
Typhoid is a bacterial disease that can cause a high fever, weakness, stomach pain, headache, and diarrhea. It can be spread through water and is relatively common in Central America. Thankfully, there is a vaccine that offers good protection. It even comes in a pill form; you simply take a few pills a week before travel.
In the United States, people are not usually vaccinated against rabies unless they work directly with wild animals or are thought to have come into contact with a rabid animal. However, rabies is more common in Central American countries where domestic pets are not as widely vaccinated. Not all travelers to Central America need to be vaccinated for rabies, but if you will be doing activities that involve venturing off into the rainforest or into other remote areas, it's a good idea to get this shot since rabies is deadly.
If you get these four vaccines before traveling to Central America, you are more likely to have a happy, healthy trip. Talk to a doctor to see whether there are any other immunizations they recommend for the particular country you are visiting.