Central America and the Caribbean
Are you traveling to Central America or the Caribbean, such as Costa Rica, Cuba, Jamaica, Barbados or the Bahamas? See Countryaah for all other countries in Central America area. Here we have gathered the most important thing you need to know about which vaccinations you should take before your trip. Keep in mind that the recommendations and advice are general for travel to all countries in Central America and the Caribbean. Exactly what vaccinations you are recommended to take before your trip will depend on which countries you plan to visit, how long your stay is and where in the different countries you plan to travel. For example, there are some vaccinations that are recommended when planning to travel in the countryside or staying outside the most common tourist areas.
My Doctor’s Clinic gives you advice on which vaccines you need, answers your questions about vaccination and vaccines you. At My Doctor’s Clinic you always get help from experienced nurses. We offer drop in and you can come when it suits you best, even in the evenings and weekends.
Why should one be vaccinated?
When traveling to Central America and the Caribbean, there is the risk of suffering from diseases and disorders that do not usually occur in Sweden. These are generally illnesses that can give rise to troublesome symptoms and which can also lead to serious complications. Below we briefly describe some of the diseases that you may need to be vaccinated against:
- Diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and measles can occur worldwide. You are advised to review your protection against the diseases, whether you are traveling or not.
- Hepatitis A and hepatitis B can occur worldwide. Hepatitis A is usually spread through food and water, and hepatitis B is spread through sexual contact and contact with infected blood.
- Typhoid fever is a serious disease that can cause blood poisoning. The disease can be spread through contaminated food and water.
- Cholera is a bacterial disease that is usually spread through contaminated food and water. Cholera can cause troublesome symptoms, such as fever, diarrhea, stomach pain and vomiting.
- Epidemic meningitis is a disease that in some cases can lead to serious complications. The disease can occur in a few places in Central America and the Caribbean.
- Tuberculosis can occur in some countries in Central America and the Caribbean. You are at higher risk of contracting the disease if you plan to stay longer in these areas of the world.
The disease yellow fever is very uncommon in the countries of Central America and the Caribbean. Nevertheless, in a number of countries, you need to be vaccinated against the disease in order to obtain an entry permit, if you have recently been to or traveled through a country where the disease occurs. This applies to popular destinations such as Costa Rica, Cuba, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and the Bahamas. The reason is that the spread of the disease between continents and countries should be limited.
When traveling to countries where yellow fever vaccination is mandatory, you should be able to present a medical certificate stating that you have been vaccinated against the disease, or show an exception certificate. Exceptions to vaccination, for example, may need to be given in case you are pregnant, if there is a child under nine months to travel or if for some other reason you can not get the vaccine – for example if you have egg allergy or take certain medications that affect the immune system.
The Public Health Authority recommends that everyone have adequate basic protection for measles, diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough. This applies whether you plan to travel or not. Recommended replenishment of protection against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough is every 20 years. At My Doctor’s Clinic, we answer your questions about the general vaccination program and help you replenish your basic protection if needed.
Vaccination against both hepatitis A and hepatitis B is recommended for travel to most destinations. You can get vaccines against hepatitis A and hepatitis B at the same time.
Typhoid fever occurs in several of the countries in Central America and the Caribbean. We recommend that you vaccinate yourself against the disease if you plan to eat simply cooked local food, live with the locals, stay outside the most common tourist areas, or should be away for a longer period.
For children and adolescents who will be living in Central America or the Caribbean for a long time, protection against epidemic meningitis is recommended.
Cholera is very common in Haiti and you should vaccinate well in advance of your departure if you plan to visit the country. The cholera vaccine also provides limited protection against so-called tourist diarrhea.
For longer stays or if you are going to settle in Central America or the Caribbean, protection against tuberculosis is recommended.
Keep in mind that these recommendations are general for Central America and the Caribbean as a whole, as the incidence of various illnesses may differ depending on which countries you plan to travel to. In addition, the recommendations may vary depending on where in a country you plan to stay, such as outside major cities and tourist areas, and how long your stay in each country is. Come to us at the My Doctor’s Clinic and we will advise and help you get the vaccines recommended for your particular journey.
Who should vaccinate?
The recommendations regarding vaccination before traveling to Central America and the Caribbean apply to everyone, children as adults. However, there are specific recommendations regarding vaccination for certain groups, such as young children, pregnant women and individuals with impaired immune systems. Come to us at My Doctor Clinic and we will go through what applies to you.
How long before should you be vaccinated?
How long before you should vaccinate against diseases that are common in Central America and the Caribbean depends, among other things, on how long your stay will be, how old you are, if you have been vaccinated against a particular illness before and possibly even if you plan to to receive multiple vaccinations before your departure.
Some vaccines are given in several doses. Therefore, it is good to be out well in advance of a planned trip, 1 to 2 months is enough for most people. Keep in mind that many vaccines can provide some protection even if you receive them at short notice before your trip.
Where to vaccinate?
At My Doctor’s Clinic, we help you get good protection against the most common illnesses before your trip to Central America and the Caribbean. My Doctor’s Clinic offers vaccination against hepatitis A and B, typhoid fever, yellow fever, cholera as well as some basic vaccinations.
Diseases spread through mosquitoes can occur in many of the countries of Central America and the Caribbean. The diseases chikungunya fever, dengue fever and zika virus are all spread through mosquito bites and can occur, for example, in Costa Rica, the Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Jamaica. There is no vaccine against these diseases and it is therefore important that you protect yourself against mosquito bites using mosquito repellent and mosquito nets. Pregnant women are advised not to travel to a country where the zika virus can occur, as the disease can cause birth defects.
Also malaria is spread through mosquitoes and can occur in countries such as the Dominican Republic, Panama, Haiti, Guatemala and El Salvador. There are medicines in the form of tablets that prevent malaria. There are several different types of malaria tablets, and some may need to be taken already three weeks before your trip. Talk to our doctors or nurses about what malaria medicine you need for your particular journey. At My Doctor’s Clinic you can get a prescription for malaria medicine. Prescriptions for malaria medication are free of charge in connection with other travel vaccinations. It is also important that you use mosquito repellent and mosquito nets during your trip to Africa, as malaria tablets do not guarantee adequate protection against the disease.
When traveling to countries in Central America and the Caribbean, it’s good to keep in mind that food and tap water can contain bacteria and parasites that can cause various types of stomach upset and that often cause stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fever. This is sometimes called tourist diarrhea. It is therefore good if you have a close watch on what you get in you, avoid drinking tap water and that you make sure you have fluid replacement and other things that can alleviate the problems if they arise. Keep in mind that vaccines against cholera also provide some protection against so-called tourist diarrhea and you should consider vaccinating yourself against the disease if you are going to be living in South America, Central America or the Caribbean for a longer period.
Do you need to get in touch with a doctor during the trip? Download the My Doctor app. Through the app you can quickly get in touch with a Swedish doctor in case you get sick.