Travel health – preparing for Haiti

Krista Spurr bitesized travel Haiti travel blog posts

Here’s a traveler’s version of an LSAT question:

Prophylaxis medication travel health haiti cholera malaria typhoid

Krista has three vaccines and medications (prophylaxis) to take for malaria, cholera and typhoid in advance of her upcoming trip:

  • The anti-malaria drug must be started 1-2 days before entering the malaria zone and must be taken every day, until 7 days after leaving the zone. It must be taken with food.
  • The anti-cholera drug must be taken twice, and must be completed at least one week before entering the zone. It must be taken on an empty stomach.
  • The typhoid vaccine must be taken four times, every other day, and must be completed at least one week before entering the zone. It must be taken on an empty stomach.
  • None of the drugs can be taken the same day.

Make a medication schedule for Krista.

This is a pretty terrific example of an analytical reasoning question, which I studied the hell out of before writing the Law School Admissions Test in 1995. Back then, the study guides advised aspiring lawyers to map out the information provided in the question and use visual tools to solve the problem. I didn’t go to law school, but the terrifying test-taking experience yielded incredibly useful life skills for my current predicament.

Travel health needs planning, too

I take travel health very seriously, especially when travelling in countries and climates that are different from my own. I first saw a specialized travel doctor in 2010 when I went to Morocco, and have considered it to be a good investment in my travel experiences and future health ever since.

Where I live in Canada, travel health is not an insured medical service. I pay $60 for the consultation, plus any vaccinations I receive in the office (other than the flu shot, which is provided for free), and I’m all set. Depending on where I’m going, other vaccines and prophylactic medications are prescribed, some of which are covered by my employer’s drug plan and some are not – your mileage will vary.

Your individual health and circumstances are unique, so please consult a travel health practitioner for advice. Information presented in this post is not professional medical advice.


Prior to my appointment, I read some travel health resources, then discussed my research with the doctor to determine how I should prepare for this trip. I keep a vaccination record or “yellow card” to record and monitor vaccinations and prophylactic medications I’ve received over the years. For example, I started Twinrix for Hepatitis A and B back in 2010, so I shouldn’t have to revisit that one until 2020 or so.

At my consultation, the travel doctor reviewed my card and determined since my last typhoid shot was in 2012, with the coverage lasting approximately two years, I was due for another one. I’ve never taken a cholera medication, which has two years of protection, and the anti-malaria medication is effective while you take it, so I would need to take it again.

Prophylaxis medication travel health yellow record card sample

I got my prescriptions filled and went through all of the various combinations and permutations with the pharmacist, arriving at a workable dosing schedule for my pre-, during-, and post-trip medications.

Prophylaxis medication schedule travel health haiti

Travel Health Resources

There a many great, free resources for travel health information to get you started.

Travel Health – Public Health Agency of Canada

Travelers’ Health – US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

Fit For Travel – UK National Health Service

International Travel and Health – World Health Organization

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