Edward Travel Clinic Offers You a Better Shot at Healthy Travel
There's nothing like getting sick on vacation for putting the fun on hold. And when you've invested the time and money on a much-anticipated trip abroad losing days to illness is even more frustrating.
Spanish teacher Elyse Bergamini, 25, isn't afraid of adventure travel, whether it involves mountain climbing or an African safari. What she's not willing to risk is an illness that can be avoided with the right vaccination or medication.
Several weeks before her 2013 trip to Africa, the Naperville resident first visited the Edward Hospital Travel Medicine Clinic to see what she could do to stay healthy while traveling. She had learned of the clinic from her father and fellow traveler, Jay Bergamini, DDS, an oral/maxillofacial surgeon who’s on the Edward Medical Staff.
"For that trip I had vaccinations for Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis) and the flu, and I had to finish the series of shots for both hepatitis A and hepatitis B,” says Elyse. “I already had had a yellow fever vaccination for an earlier trip."
The clinic appointment starts with questions about the patient's health history and details of their itinerary. A key detail of Bergamini's African trip was a climb to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
Kathleen Kelley, MD, medical director of the Edward Travel Medicine Clinic, prescribed medication to limit altitude sickness. Unlike some members of the climb, Bergamini developed no symptoms of this potentially dangerous condition.
Bergamini checked in with the clinic again in preparation for a summer 2014 trip to South America. She found she was already covered regarding vaccinations. And she didn't need the anti-malarial medications she took for an earlier South American trip because the new itinerary did not include the same malaria "hot spots."
"As a medically run travel clinic we take into account the patient's chronic medical conditions, medications and allergies before making our recommendations,” says Dr. Kelley. “It's important to look at the relative risks and benefits of vaccines and medicines for each patient.
"In some cases the clinic will provide paperwork, rather than a vaccination. Certain countries, including several in South America and Africa, require that a traveler who has not had a recommended vaccination present an explanatory waiver to the immigration officer. This occurs most often with the yellow fever vaccine."
The document would explain why it was determined not to give the vaccine – typically due to the person's age, medical condition or medications.
"In addition to providing any needed vaccinations or prescriptions, each one-hour clinic visit includes a consultation with the nurse,” says Dr. Kelley. “They'll discuss topics such as water and food safety, protection from disease-carrying mosquitoes and dealing with common traveler's ailments."
“Before my 2013 trip, one of the clinic nurses who had been to Africa gave me tips on what to eat and what not to eat,” says Elyse. “I really like that the staff not only has the medical knowledge, they also are very well-traveled themselves."
For more information, visit www.edward.org/travelmedicine. To make an appointment with the Edward Travel Medicine Clinic, call (630) 961-4948. If traveling abroad, allow at least six weeks before your departure to complete required vaccinations. You may need a series of shots, or there may be a waiting period before the vaccinations become effective.