Hamilton County Dept. of Health stressing vaccinations for overseas travel

Reported by: Erik Avanier
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Updated: 5/15/2014 7:26 pm
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee(WDEF) - Residents within the Chattanooga metropolitan area planning summer vacations outside the U.S. should first consider visiting the International Travel Clinic to avoid contracting a foreign illness.

The ITC is located inside the Hamilton County Dept. of Health building.

In recent days, Measles and MERS have become the two deadly illnesses that have been linked to travel outside the U.S. Even threats of contracting Polio in some countries have prompted travel advisories.

Hamilton County health officials want travelers to know the ITC is the place to go before packing bags and boarding an airplane a foreign country.

"We want you to come back as healthy as you are when you go. And the one way that we can do that is to not only give you information but vaccines that are appropriate for your particular destination," said Immunization Program Nurse Manager, Constance Buecker.

The recent news about viral outbreaks has prompted federal health officials to urge travelers to get vaccinations before leaving the U.S. But many of those vaccination aren't found in they typical doctors office.

"We have every vaccine here that is available to the U.S. public," Buecker said.

Some countries will allow U.S. travelers to enter without asking about vaccinations. But leaving that same country without proof of vaccination to enter another country or even the U.S. can create problems at some foreign airports.

"What we're seeing right now in some places like Pakistan, where they're having a Polio outbreak, is that they're trying to restrict people from leaving who don't or haven't been vaccinated or show proof of vaccination," Buecker said.

That's why an International Certificate of Vaccination comes in handy. It shows foreign governments every vaccination you've had along with booster shots and when you took them.

But there are some illnesses that don't have a vaccination to protect you; Illnesses that are carried by foreign insects. This is why the ITC also acts as a counseling office.

"There are certainly things about your personal insect protection that you can learn. Sometimes it's the only thing that can protect you," Buecker said.

Another problem to consider is the cost of getting a vaccination for a specific virus found in some foreign countries. Most insurances policies won't cover those vaccinations so be prepared to spend upwards of $200 for both the shot and the consultation.

For more information on the International Travel Clinic, call the (423) 209-8340.

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