Hi! My BF and I will be leaving the states for a few years to travel thru Latin America. We are very health conscience and have found our government to be untrustworthy when it comes to what they consider safe so taking the CDC's recommendations at face value is not something I am able to do. I am not comfortable traveling (and exploring/hiking/camping) without vaccines but I am looking for some unbiased information to help me make a decision on which are absolutely necessary and safe.
It is recommended that we get the Tdap booster, MMR, Rabies, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, and Hep A&B
Hi Sara and welcome to the board. Those vaccines do sound like a lot, but it is quite possible that you will have had many of them already. Do you have your vaccination records? Most US adults will have had
a series (3 or 4 shots) of HepB
Have a browse through your records and check.
One dTaP is a good idea. In case you do sustain a bad insect bite or an injury, you'll be able to tell a doctor anywhere that you have had your last booster in 2012 and it'll save you tetanus Ig injections.
Typhoid is one shot that is good for a year, or two at least 6 months apart, that are good for 20 years or so. If you have not had hepA there is a typhoid/hepA combo (I had that for travel to China 4 years ago - no problems whatsoever).
Rabies is a tough one. Rabies is almost always fatal and there is no guarantee that if you are backpacking in a remote area you will get the right post-exposure treatment if bitten. Rabies vaccine does often cause quite hefty local reactions, but if you are going to go off road, rather than resorts, I would recommend you seriously consider the rabies vaccine. The eradication of dog rabies transmitted to humans is on the way in Latin America, but bat transmitted rabies is still prevalent.
If you are traveling from the United States to Latin America, the CDC Yellow Book (foreign travel recommendations) is available online. Here, is the section of the Yellow Book regarding rabies pre-exposure vaccine: