Traveling to another country can be an exciting adventure. To help ensure travelers stay healthy and free from illness while traveling abroad, Circle Health’s Urgent Care centers in Billerica and Westford now offer comprehensive Travel Medicine services for adults and children, including all necessary vaccinations and prescriptions for recommended medications.
Dr. Roxanne Latimer, Medical Director of Urgent Care, discusses what patients need to know about the benefits of using Circle Health’s Travel Medicine service.
Why is Travel Medicine important?
Safety and prevention. Part of planning for an international trip should include protecting one’s health from possible infections that could make you sick, as well as taking precautions against other problems such as traveler’s diarrhea and altitude sickness. We try to protect everyone, no matter where they are in the world.
What happens at a Travel Medicine visit?
A physician will review the patient’s itinerary, current medical conditions and medications, and then outline the required and additional recommended vaccines for the particular country being visited. If the destination carries risk for infection from water, food or mosquitos, the patient will also receive prescriptions for anti-diarrheal and anti-malarial medicines. A nurse will then administer the vaccines. No appointment is needed. Patients can simply walk in at their convenience or schedule online with advance check in.
How long before traveling should someone be vaccinated?
In general, one month in advance of the trip, as it may take several weeks to achieve full immunity. However, some vaccines, such as Japanese encephalitis, do require more time to take effect.
Does insurance cover the cost of the vaccines?
Travel vaccines are elective and usually not covered by most insurance companies, except for those commonly administered in the U.S. such as hepatitis and influenza. Most insurances will cover prescriptions for anti-malarial, traveler’s diarrhea and altitude sickness medicines. We will provide costs for each vaccine and medication.
What are some tips to avoid traveler’s diarrhea or infection from mosquitos?
Travelers should be very cautious about drinking water in third world countries. Avoid ice cubes, and try not to ingest any water when taking a shower or brushing your teeth – use bottled water instead. In areas with a risk of malaria, wear clothing with long sleeves, pants and hats, and use netting. An insect repellent with DEET is the most effective for preventing bites.
What about patients who do get sick from their trips?
We treat a lot of post-travelers who did not get vaccines or medicines in advance. They can visit us at one of our Urgent Care centers, and we will help them make it through an illness.