When you start planning your trip to India and sit down to make a to-do list, put "call doctor for vaccine appointment" at the top of the list. Then don't put it off.
According to the CDC, you need to start your immunizations at least four to six weeks before you plan to leave. That way the vaccines will have time to become effective. And you'll also be able to start taking preventive medicines for diseases that don't have vaccines, such as malaria.
College presents a new world of opportunity, and a new world of risks. Communal living spaces, less-than-sanitary conditions, and irregular sleeping habits all can leave students vulnerable to disease.
This means prevention is key, says William Schaffner, MD, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. Schaffner, who is also chair of preventive medicine and an infectious diseases professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, spoke with WebMD about the most important vaccines...
Here's an overview of the vaccines you may need before you leave for India. Keep in mind that the actual vaccinations you need will be determined by several factors that you and your health care provider should review together.
Deciding What Vaccines to Get
To determine what vaccines you need, your health care provider will:
Consider your current health and health history
Review your immunization records
Evaluate your itinerary
Then he or she will let you know exactly what vaccines you need and where you can get them.
The list of vaccines will be based on:
Your health status
How current your immunizations are
Where you are planning to go in the countries you are visiting
What you're likely to do while you're there
Staying Up to Date on U.S. Vaccines
Your doctor will review your immunization record to make sure you are up to date on the standard vaccines and booster shots that people in the U.S. should have. That includes immunizations for:
You'll also possibly need a tetanus booster shot. And it's important to make sure that your flu shot is current.
Vaccines for India
Here are vaccines you may need for travel to India:
Hepatitis A. This disease can be transmitted through food and water. The risk for Hepatitis A in India is high. So, immunization is highly recommended.
Hepatitis B. There is an intermediate risk for hepatitis B in India. Hepatitis B is a viral infection that can be transmitted by contact with blood and other bodily fluids. That means you could potentially be exposed through:
recreational drug use
being in an accident
receiving medical care
If you haven't been vaccinated for it already, you should get the vaccine before you go.
Typhoid fever. Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness. It's caused by bacteria. You can get typhoid fever by eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
It's recommended that anyone traveling in southern Asia, including India, be vaccinated against it. This is especially important if you will be visiting rural areas or staying in small towns.
Japanese encephalitis. India is a high-risk area for this viral disease. It is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito. The disease is potentially fatal.