Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Travel Health Concerns

I’m feeling much better today; my adoption PMS is almost completely gone! It’s still amazing to me how, with no hormones surging through my body, I can still be as completely whacked-out emotionally as I was during my pregnancies. The mood swings around here lately are truly frightening.

As we get closer to referral time I starting to prepare more and more for the travel portion of this adoption adventure. I’ve never traveled outside of the country (not counting Canada and Mexico) and I’m excited and nervous about how it will all work out.

My main concerns are all health related. First, I’m still battling the ulcer issues that have been plaguing me for quite a while. If I miss a meal, eat anything even slightly acidic, or drink any kind of soda, tea, or coffee, my stomach revolts big time! This is scary for me as I know that schedules will be completely wonky and I have little or no control over meals.

I’m also concerned about my migraines. We still haven’t been able to pinpoint the triggers and they are extremely debilitating when they hit. I’m scared to death that I’ll come down with one while we are in Ethiopia and need to running around finalizing all the adoption paperwork or on a plane with an infant to deal with. My ulcer issues play into this too because it’s hard to find medications I can take for my migraines that doesn’t eat up my stomach.

And last, but certainly not least, is the whole vaccinations topic. I’ve been reading the CDC website about recommended vaccines for travel to Ethiopia and holy-moly that’s a lot of shots! I’m very conservative when it comes to vaccinations with my family. Both of the girls have been selectively vaccinated on a delayed schedule. We carefully weigh the risks of the illness with the danger of the vaccine and make individual choices on each. It’s not in my nature to just plunk down and roll up a sleeve.

Having never traveled abroad I’m uneducated about the likelihood of getting illnesses when traveling to a country for a week so it’s difficult to compare that to the risks of the vaccinations. I also don’t know at this point if we will be traveling outside of the city which might change which vaccinations we feel are appropriate.

I found an interesting article about travel vaccinations at I though she made a good point when she says,

Although the CDC recommends that all travelers obtain vaccines when traveling abroad, it is important to realize that, with one exception, no vaccine is required before you travel anywhere in the world: they are only "recommended." You will not be required to have a vaccination record to enter a country, nor will you be required to obtain vaccines to return home.

The sole exception is the Yellow Fever vaccine, which may be required if you travel to or from a South American or African country infected with Yellow Fever. The recommendations can vary from country to country; if such a destination is part of your travel plans, you should look up the Yellow Fever requirements for that specific country. The CDC's Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements are available at

I have been a globe-trotter for most of my adult life. In the past 25 years, I have traveled to more than 40 countries. I have never been asked for a vaccine record, nor have I ever felt the need for any vaccines, even when traveling to remote, exotic destinations.

I know that I'm not getting the Yellow Fever shot as it is not required if you are traveling to Ethiopia from the US. The vaccinations I'm considering right now are HepA, HepB, and Meningitis, although I still have a lot of research to do about it.

What did you do for vaccinations prior to your adoption travel?


Chuck and Jenny said...

Carrie - we're doing HepA, HebB (for me, not DH, and I've already had the shots), and Tetnaus. That's it. No Yellow Fever, and I contemplated a MMR booster, but don't think we're going to get it.

Mom of 5 said...

Carrie- Travel to China
I did Hep A (Already had Heb b and the other standard American ones)
I am also very cautious. It takes us forever to get the kids done. We give one at a time, months apart.... just do the research and make your decision. I was also very careful to drink only bottled water and eat really cooked bland foods. I shed 10 lb's being careful. (Yep I did gain it back :) once I got home)
Just take the meds alonf for GI upset and migraines. You will be OK. I traveled with a pharmacy and didn't need it -

Anne said...

I had hep A, hep B and a tetanus booster. I was really afraid of getting sick in Ethiopia, too, but sticking with bottled water and eating only really hot, well cooked food seemed to do the trick (I also brought food with me). I was there for three weeks and the only thing I contracted was conjunctivitis in one eye a couple of days before I came home.

I did feel kind of sick for a few days after the shots -- and that tetanus booster actually bruised my arm and was tender for about a week.

It is scary to have health issues and travel to Ethiopia -- but thankfully for me it all worked out fine. I would say take whatever medications you think you might need, and remember that there are medical facilities available, albeit they're not up to our usual standards. I think the Hilton even has a doctor on staff.

M3 said...

We did Hep A/B (a dual shot called Twinrex or something like that), plus tetanus boosters for our China trip. And then we hoped for the best and got on the plane. :-)

chou-chou said...

I'm doing Hep A and B, typhoid, and a tetanus booster. I had a yellow fever immunization in 1999, and it's supposed to last for 10 years, so not doing that again...

on an entirely separate note, i tagged you for a "7 Things" meme on my blog. Sorry. :-)