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Get vaccinated before you travel this holiday season

Posted at 6:56 AM, Dec 14, 2018

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — If you are planning on traveling during the holiday season, you need to think about a little more than just packing.

We’re talking about vaccines and other preparations to keep yourself from getting sick.

Make sure you are up to date on your vaccines, particularly measles and flu.

Four cases of the measles were recently reported in unvaccinated children in Sarasota County. The Florida Department of Health urges everyone to get vaccinated before they travel.

“When we have pockets of people who are not vaccinated, and we lose what we call 'herd immunity.' Measles is very, very contagious, you don’t need much of it to get sick," said Dr. Celina Moore, a pediatrician at West Boca Raton Medical Center.

And don't forget about the flu.

“We are now in flu season, so we are seeing it. So, make sure you have your flu vaccine in," said Moore.

Doctors say you need to get vaccinated two weeks prior to travel to give it enough time to work on your body and build immunity.

Other vaccines to consider include yellow fever and Hepatitis A.

Yellow fever is prevalent in South America and is required to travel to some countries like Brazil.

You can vaccinate for foodborne diseases like Hepatitis A -- there was actually an incident in Orlando last month at a restaurant in Disney Springs where a food worker did not properly report having the disease.

Don't travel if you have a fever and try to avoid crowds.

Doctors said there are a few essentials you can bring with you when you travel, including hand sanitizer, Emergen-C or Vitamin C supplements, scarves and sweaters to stay warm on the plane, and supplemental zinc.

“It’s been shown in multiple studies that it cuts down on the spread of gastroenteritis (stomach flu), infections and diarrhea so there's a lot of benefits of supplemental zinc," said Moore.

Zinc is the secret weapon to stop a virus in its tracks and it comes in liquid, pill or gummy form. It has the same molecular structure as the rhinovirus and it helps to block the virus from latching onto the cells in your body.

“You need to take supplemental zinc. 50 mg for adults three times a day. And what that does, it prevents the actual virus from going into your nasal passages and multiplying," said Moore. “It does help but you have to take it right when you first start feeling your nose twitch a bit. Once you’re sick, it’s not going to help.”

Water is another key to staying healthy while traveling.

“When flying you can become dehydrated very easily — so drink well, sleep well and eat well. But you still can’t avoid the person near you who’s coughing so just be wise about it," said Moore.