Travel Medicine – Frequently Asked Questions
What is travel medicine?
Travel medicine is preventive health care to anticipate and prevent potential health issues you may encounter while traveling. Our UAMS Travel Medicine Clinic staff members will review your medical history to administer immunizations and write prescriptions for medications.
What are the advantages of going to UAMS’ Travel Medicine Clinic for my shots/tests?
We are highly experienced in prevention and immunization for foreign travel. For many years we have provided services to new immigrants to the U.S. as well as to UAMS employees who join us from many countries. We maintain current knowledge of infectious diseases to offer up-to-date recommendations to you.
How far in advance of my trip do I need to worry about travel medicine?
There’s really no such thing as too much advance planning in this matter. Most immunizations can be obtained months in advance, while prescriptions can be held and filled just prior to departure. Getting travel medicine services closer than 15 days prior to departure is pushing the deadline and less than 10 days will not allow enough time for immunizations to be effective. If you are visiting a country where the yellow fever vaccine is required, entry will be denied if you do not receive your vaccine at least 10 days before arrival.
Do I need an appointment?
We request that you make an appointment by calling 501-686-6565. We can usually schedule an appointment within two business days, which allows us to align our staffing and resources to serve you more effectively.
How do I find out what I need for travel to a particular country?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a reliable source of information. You can call the CDC at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or access the CDC Web site. Another excellent resource is the World Health Organization’s Web site.
What happens if I need to travel to a country and do not want to take one of the listed shots?
Countries vary on requirements for short term travelers, and the UAMS Travel Medicine Clinic will work to ensure that you meet all the requirements for the countries you will be visiting. In countries where yellow fever vaccines are required, border control officials will deny entry to visitors who have not been vaccinated. The requirements for persons seeking longer term visas or residency permits are usually more extensive than the requirements for short term travelers, so additional testing and more extensive immunizations may be required.
What about my children? Can UAMS be involved in their travel medicine needs as well?
Yes, we are able to provide travel medicine services to children. You may need to allow an extra day or two so that we can order pediatric doses for some immunizations from our supplier.
What causes travelers’ diarrhea?
Diarrhea is the most common illness of travelers. Your personalized consultation at the UAMS Travel Medicine Clinic includes anticipating the possibility of diarrhea and providing prescriptions for antibiotics and medications.
Are my risks of contacting AIDS and other blood-borne pathogens higher in developing countries?
Not necessarily. There are some developing countries that have a much higher prevalence of AIDS, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C than in the U.S. This may change the odds of becoming infected for a traveler engaged in risky behavior. You can avoid contracting illnesses by taking the same precautions you would take at home (avoidance of unprotected sexual contact, sharing of needles or other contact with body fluids).
What is malaria?
Malaria is a blood parasite that is spread by mosquitoes in some areas of the world. Malaria infection can be prevented by taking steps to reduce exposure to mosquitoes and by taking anti-malaria medications. These medications are not without side effects, so you and your itinerary need to be analyzed individually at our clinic. For example, travel to major cities that are free of malaria may not call for taking these medications whereas travel to more rural destinations in the same country would require this treatment. These details can be explored further during your personalized consultation at our clinic.
What does someone do if they become seriously ill overseas?
If you have a pre-existing condition such as advanced heart disease that may place you at higher risk of health adversity abroad, we advise you to identify in advance suitable hospitals and healthcare facilities in the region of travel. The U.S. State Department Web site has excellent free information and links regarding medical emergencies abroad.
If Medical Care Is Needed Abroad
If a U.S. citizen becomes seriously ill or is injured abroad, a U.S. consular officer can assist in locating appropriate medical services and informing family or friends. If necessary, an officer can also assist in the transfer of funds from the U.S. However, payment of hospital and other expenses is the responsibility of the traveler.
Protection against potentially hazardous drugs is nonexistent in some countries, increasing the risk of adverse reactions. Do not buy medications “over the counter” unless you are familiar with the product.
Before going abroad, learn what medical services your health insurance will cover. If your health insurance policy provides coverage outside the U.S., remember to carry both your insurance policy identification card and a claim form. Although some health insurance companies will pay “customary and reasonable” hospital costs abroad, very few will pay for medical evacuation to the U.S. Medical evacuation can easily cost $10,000 or more, depending on the location and medical condition. Services such as www.insuremytrip.com may be helpful in seeking out supplemental insurance for your travels.
If you have any other travel medicine questions, please call 686-8821.