Whether you're traveling to visit family, or flying south for some winter sun, consider how you can protect yourself from contracting the flu virus on your travels.
In our last blog, we looked at how to protect yourself and others from the spread of flu in day-to-day life. But if you're planning to travel, there are some extra considerations to take into account before, during, and after your trip.
Before your trip
- The most effective way to prevent flu is to get an annual vaccination.
- The CDC guidelines advise that everyone above the age of 6 months is to be vaccinated each year.1
- Between each flu season, the virus changes and mutates at such a rate that last year's vaccines are no longer effective. So, it's important to get a new vaccine each year.2
- In the U.S., the optimum time to get vaccinated against the flu is in the fall.3
- You should get vaccinated at least 2 weeks before travel.
Make sure you have an insurance plan that covers medical care within your travel destination.
If you are sick with flu-like symptoms and are due to travel, stay at home.
- To help contain the virus, stay at home for at least 24 hours after you no longer have a fever or signs of fever without using fever-reducing tablets.
- Viruses spread rapidly, particularly amongst tour groups where people from all over the world congregate.
Get clued up on outbreaks at your travel destination.
During your trip
- Practice good general hygiene by washing your hands with soap and water frequently, and coughing or sneezing into a tissue and then discarding it immediately.
- Listen out for any local government announcements in case of an outbreak.
- In the case of an outbreak, follow any prevention guidelines and movement restrictions.
If you present flu-like symptoms during your trip
- Most people infected with the flu who are otherwise healthy will recover within 2 weeks.
- If you are in a high-risk group, seek medical care.
- Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate in the destination country. One of their officers should help you find local medical care and explain how the health care system works. The number for the Overseas Citizens Services is: 888-407-4747.
After your trip
- Monitor your health for a week after your trip is over. If you have severe flu symptoms, seek medical care and inform your doctor of where you have traveled.4