CHICAGO HEIGHTS, Illinois - Preparation for overseas travel requires more than a passport and inoculations. Travel medicine services through Franciscan Health, including those offered at the Franciscan Health International Travel Clinic in Chicago Heights, Illinois, can give you insightful information about your destination and invaluable tips. During your visit to the clinic, you’ll learn what viruses thrive at your particular destination and what steps you can take beyond inoculations to protect yourself. For example, although the Zika virus is no longer making headlines, it is still a concern. Women who are pregnant or planning a pregnancy should avoid travel to Zika areas.
Men can transmit the virus to their partners and should be cautious if they have been exposed to Zika. Our pre-travel consultations include information about how to safely manage various medical conditions on your trip. Crossing time zones may cause confusion as to when to take medications. We will advise you on how to keep up with your medication schedule and how best to store medications, such as insulin, for travel.
Overseas destinations are not always like the United States. For example, there aren't as many cabs or ride-sharing options. So, there is usually a lot of walking involved. If walking poses a problem, we can show you how to arrange for a scooter or other aids. Safety and security issues are often ignored by travelers. Register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so the U.S. embassy at your destination will know to look for you in the event of unrest, war or natural disaster.
American passports are desirable items. Keep copies of your data page at home to make it easier to replace a lost or stolen passport, and only present your passport to uniformed officials with identification. Take control of your own safety by avoiding risks. Don't feel intimated by being in a foreign country or fear making someone angry if you speak up for yourself.
The Franciscan Health International Travel Clinic has the most current Centers for Disease Control (CDC) inoculation information. Because most vaccines require 10-14 days to take effect, we recommend that you make your appointment with us at least two weeks before travel. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, we wish you a safe and enjoyable trip. The Franciscan Health International Travel Clinic is here to help you make the most of your experience abroad.
By Kanayo K. Odeluga, MD, MPH
Medical Director of Franciscan WorkingWell and Director of the International Travel Clinic