Winter Vacations – Consult Your Physician Before You Go

Winter Vacations – Consult Your Physician Before You Go

Over the next several months many of us will be flocking to warm destinations to escape our harsh Ottawa winter. However – beware, even a short getaway to the Caribbean or Mexico can bring with it the risk of serious illnesses.

On November 4, 2014 The Public Health Agency of Canada posted a travel health notice for chikungunya in The Caribbean, Central and South America, France, the United States and Ocean Pacific Islands. Chikungunya is a disease that causes fever, along with an arthritis-like pain in the joints and a rash. It is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Although caused by a different virus, the symptoms of chikungunya can appear very similar to those of dengue fever. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against chikungunya virus.

The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that you scheduled a visit to your doctor or a travel medicine provider 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to ensure that you are properly vaccinated and have appropriate medications on-hand. Most vaccines take time to become effective in your body and some vaccines must be given in a series over a period of days or sometimes weeks.

If it is less than 4 weeks before you leave, you should still see your doctor. You might still benefit from shots or medications and other information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while traveling.

You may need to get the following vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable diseases and other diseases you might be at risk for at your destination. Your physician will determine what you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, and planned activities.

Vaccination or Disease

Recommendations or Requirements for    Vaccine-Preventable Diseases


Recommended if you are not up-to-date with routine shots such    as, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT)    vaccine, etc.

Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG)

 Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or    working in countries with an intermediate or high level of hepatitis A virus    infection where exposure might occur through food or water. Cases of    travel-related hepatitis A can also occur in travelers to developing    countries with “standard” tourist itineraries, accommodations, and    food consumption behaviors.

Hepatitis B

Recommended for all unvaccinated persons traveling to or    working in countries with intermediate to high levels of endemic HBV    transmission and who might be exposed to blood or body fluids, have sexual    contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment,    such as for an accident, and for all adults requesting protection from HBV    infection.


Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working    in Mexico and Central America, especially if visiting smaller cities,    villages, or rural areas and staying with friends or relatives where    exposure might occur through food or water.


Vacations are an important method of managing stress, giving us the break we need so that we can return to our lives refreshed and better equipped to handle whatever comes. With a little pre-planning and education, you can ensure that your holiday is relaxing and worry-free.