Best Vaccinations for Backpacking in South America
I quickly realized sandals were a bad idea for shoes as I walked into the doctors office for my vaccination shots in preparation for my backpacking trip around South America.
My toes felt numb against the frigid air conditioned room. I wore tanned, white, blue, & grey plaid shorts with a white t-shirt that had a blue marlin swimming across the front to compliment.
At least that marlin would’ve felt at home here if it were alive in this cool room instead of the tropical temperature I kept at home. I would think so anyways, considering the ocean is cold in those deeper waters. But I digress; when it comes to traveling in a foreign country, you need to take many precautionary measures to ensure the likelihood of not getting sick.
Of course, there is no guarantee that what I did to prepare myself for this trip is what you should do; That’s why you always listen to your doctor and what their recommendation are. Furthermore, I am not in any way qualified to tell you what vaccinations you should take nor am I in any way claiming to be qualified to make these statements but I thought it would be fun to write up my experience and what vaccinations I had to take to help prepare you for your next overseas trip.
Just remember, you should always consult with your doctor on what you should do and which vaccinations to take in order to prepare for your trip to South America (or anywhere else for that matter).
Travel Vaccinations for South America…
Listed below are the different vaccinations I decided to take before backpacking through South America and their costs at the time I received them. Growing up in America, some of the shots listed I actually received when going through school so didn’t have to get a second dose…thankfully!
1.) Foreign Travel Consultation – Cost me $50 USD
The reason I listed this section under vaccinations needed is simply because of the loads of information I received from my consultation. There’s no better way to learn about and prevent the different diseases than to talk to an actual physician because they can give correct, up to date information.
2.) Yellow Fever Vaccination – Cost me $130 USD
Yellow Fever is a serious disease caused by the yellow fever virus. It is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito and cannot be spread directly from person to person. It is found in certain parts of Africa and South America. Yellow Fever can cause fever & flu-like illness, jaundice (yellow skin or eyes), organ failure, vomiting, and death. People with yellow fever usually have to be hospitalized.
3.) Typhoid Vaccination – Cost me $83 USD
Typhoid (typhoid fever) is a serious desease. It is caused by bacteria called Salmonella Typhi. Typhoid causes a high fever, weakness, stomack pains, headache, loss of appetite, and sometimes a rash. It if it not treated, it can kill 3 out of 10 people who get it and those who do not die can be “carriers”, spreading the disease to others. Generally, people get typhoid from contaminated food or water. Typhoid strikes about 21 million people a year worldwide and kills nearly 200,00 people per year.
4.) Hepatitis A Vaccination (2 shots) – Cost me $108 USD
Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). HAV is found in the stool of persons with hepatitis A. It is usually spread by close personal contact and sometimes by eating food or drinking water containing HAV. Hepatitis A can cause mild “flu like” illness, jaundice (yellow skin or eyes), severe stomach pains and diarrhea. People with hepatitis A often have to be hospitalized (often 1 out of 5 people) and those who don’t can easily pass the disease to others within the same household. Hepatitis kills about 3-5 people out of every 1,000 cases.
5.) Hepatitis B Vaccination – Already Had Shot
Hepatitis B is a serious disease caused by a virus that attacks the liver. The virus which is called hepatitis B virus (HBV), can cause lifelong infection, cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, liver cancer, liver failure, and death.
6.) Tetanus, Diphtheria (Td) or Tetanus, Diphtheria, Pertussis (Tdap) Vaccination – Cost me $50 USD or $66 USD
Tetanus, Diphtheria, and Pertussis (whooping cough) are all caused by bacteria. Diphtheria and pertussis are spread from person to person while Tetanus enters the body through cuts, scratches, or wounds. Tetanus (lockjaw) is a serious disease that causes painful tightening of the muscles, usually all over the body. It can lead to “locking” of the jaw so the victim cannot open his/her mouth or swallow. Tetanus leads to death in about 1 in 10 cases. Several vaccines are used to prevent tetanus among children, adolescents, and adults including DTap, Tdap, DT, and Td.
7.) Doxycycline Tablets (Malaria) – Cost me $140 USD
Malaria is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a parasite. People with malaria often experience fever, chills, and flu-like illness. Left untreated, they may develop severe complications and die.
Remember that the best way to prevent illness is by constantly watching and taking care of what you ingest. Washing your hands with clean (non stagnant) water, watching where you foods come from, and keeping clean are all precautionary measures and commons sense things that many fail to do around the world and may result in you getting sick and/or death.
All information is derived and credited to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in correlation with my local health department.
What vaccinations do you take in preparation for an overseas adventure tour?