Health Risks & Vaccinations

Frank Gillingham, MD

It iss critical that expatriates and their families learn about the specific health and security risks of their host country and obtain recommended vaccinations from a qualified physician, prior to leaving home.

Health Risks

Important questions regarding health and security risks include the following:


Expatriates should obtain recommended vaccinations from a qualified travel medicine physician or clinic, remembering that some vaccines require time to take effect and others require several injections over a few months. The travel medicine physician can also help the expatriate review the travel risks associated with their particular post. It's also a good idea to confirm that standard vaccinations (such as tetanus/diphtheria, otherwise known as Td) are up to date. As one participating physician put it:

"Routine vaccinations for children and adults should be checked. Often [prospective expatriates] do not receive their Td shots every 10 years because they are not routinely given in many countries."—General Practice Physician, Paris.

Sometimes an expatriate can rely on his primary care physician to review health risks and administer travel related vaccines. In many cases, particularly when the expatriate's post is geographically remote or the vaccinations complex, the expatriate is best served by consulting with a travel medicine specialist.

Upon arrival in the host country, the expatriate should review local health precautions with a qualified physician, who is likely to be better informed about subtle differences in water quality and the incidence of certain diseases such as malaria.