The Travel Doctor 3300 Webster Street
Suite 1105                                          Phone:
Oakland, California 94609                    510-763-5336
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               Thursday, September 15    HOME > FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS






Listed below are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions by our patients.

What should I bring when I arrive for my appointment?
Bring any records of previous immunizations, including common vaccines like Tetanus. If you have a yellow international vaccination card, please bring it with you.

How many visits will it take to get all my "shots"?
For trips of a month or less, we can usually accomplish everything in one visit. For longer trips, especially if vaccines like Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis or Hepatitis B are indicated, then it will take three visits.

How far in advance do I need to come to your office?
For most people we recommend coming to see us a month before travel. If you are planning a long trip (more than 1 month) you should come in two to three months before you leave because you may need vaccines that are given in series.

However, even if you are leaving on your trip tomorrow - it is still worthwhile to come in to see us. We will still be able to give you the vaccines that you need. In addition we provide written country information, information on other diseases that you may encounter and for which there is no vaccine, advice regarding food, water, safety issues, malaria protection, protection from insects and many other issues.

Do I really need shots for Mexico? (My friends don't!)
All people should be immunized against Hepatitis A. Whether you need other vaccines or malaria medication for Mexico, will depend on the length of stay, type of trip and what area of Mexico you will be visiting.

Bottled Water: How do I know it's safe?
If the seal is unbroken and opened by you or in your presence, especially if it is carbonated water, it is presumed to be safe. Other methods of sterilizing water are boiling for 1 minute, iodination or use of iodine resin filters.

What about malaria?
Malaria is a risk in many countries, and it is prevented by a combination of anti mosquito measures and medication taken before, during and  after your trip. We write prescriptions and provide detailed written and verbal advice.

What is Malaria, anyway?
Malaria is caused by four different species of a parasite called Plasmodium. These are Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium ovale and Plasmodium malariae. Plasmodium falciparum is frequently fatal if untreated. Malaria due to the other three species may cause high fever up to 106, but they are seldom fatal. However, some patients suffer relapse.

The parasite is injected during the bite of the female anopheline mosquito. Patients with malaria have no symptoms during the incubation phase in the liver. Later there are fever, chills, sweats and often vomiting or diarrhea.

What is the difference between Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B? Is there a vaccine?
Hepatitis A is spread through contaminated food and water. Hepatitis A is present in the U.S. The vaccine for Hepatitis A is very effective. You would get your first shot at the time of your visit and that will give immunity for 1 year. A booster at 6-12 months will give you long term protection.

Hepatitis B is spread through blood and body fluids. There is a vaccine available which is given in a series of three shots over a 6 month period and which gives long term protection against Hepatitis B. The vaccine is now given routinely as a pediatric vaccine for all children and it is required for all children entering middle school.

Hepatitis B vaccine is given in a series of three shots over 6 months. There is an acclerated schedule given to travelers with urgent time needs. With the accelerated schedule all three shots would be given over a 60 day period. However, you would then need a fourth shot 6-12 months later.

The main means of transmission of Hepatitis B are:

  1. sexual activity - exchange of blood or body fluids
  2. parenteral - exposure to contaminated needles - intravenous drug use, acupuncture, tattoos, ear or body piercing, manicures, blood transfusions.
  3. Open skin lesions contaminated with blood or body fluids.

I am afraid of shots!
Many people who come to our office are afraid of shots. Our staff is trained in how to give shots so that they are as gentle and pain free as possible.

What is safe sun protection?
We recommend a sun block with an SPF of at least 50 and higher.. Avoid direct sunlight between 11AM - 2PM when possible. Wear sunglasses for eye protection, wear light colored, light weight clothing, preferably shirts with long sleeves and pants instead of shorts.

Remember, a bad sunburn can ruin your trip and can cause skin cancer later in your life.

What about diarrhea, altitude sickness, pregnancy, diabetes and other travel related medical problems?
We provide written information and full discussion of all of these issues and prescriptions if appropriate.

What about illness after travel?
We no longer provide post travel care to patients

Do I need a Yellow Fever Certificate?
The Travel Doctor is a licensed yellow fever station in California. If you receive yellow fever vaccine, we will give you an international yellow fever certificate.

Do I need a flu shot to travel?
Flu is prevalent in many countries. If you are over 65, or have underlying illness you should consider this vaccine, even if you live in the U.S. It can be given to any traveler.

Will my insurance company cover me when I am abroad?
You need to check with your insurance company to see if they cover medical care when you out of the country. Many health insurance companies do not cover medical care outside of the U.S. You can purchase inexpensive medical insurance specifically for travel out of the country. We have travel insurance information available.

What if I need blood transfusions or emergency air evacuation during my trip?
We have information about emergency air evacuation, blood transfusions and medical care abroad.