Vaccinations, inoculations, shots to live in Loja Ecuador

You say you want to stay healthy in Loja. A frequently asked question is "what shots do I need?"

The United States' CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends one begin by being up to date on standard routine vaccinations. If you are an adult then you will probably already have gotten these at some point but it is wise to check and be sure you don't require any boosters before traveling. The routine inoculations include:

1. MMR (measles-mumps-rubella)
2. Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis
3. Varicella (chickenpox)
4. Polio
5. Tetanus
6. The annual flu shot

In addition to those are some less common vaccinations in western world countries, although children have begun being scheduled to receive the following two inoculations so they are protected from early in life. They are:

1. Hepatitis A (Hep A)
2. Hepatitis B (Hep B)

Those two are recommended because Hep A is a virus you can get from contaminated food or water while Hep B is had through sexual contact, contaminated needles, and perhaps most importantly for travelers, blood products.

Food handling in Ecuador is loosely regulated in some locales. In Loja, there are food and restaurant inspectors to certify proper health conditions, but the possibility of contamination is always present, even if minimal. It's not a bad idea to get the Hep A vaccine as a preventive measure.

Maybe you aren't expecting to have sexual relations or get a tattoo while in Loja, but no one ever plans to have an emergency, either. If you should be unlucky enough to have an accident that requires receiving a blood transfusion then a Hep B inoculation might save you from the remote possibility of contracting the disease through blood that was not properly checked. Yes, sad to say, the blood supply in Ecuador is not screened as thoroughly as in the United States so anything you can do to prepare in advance for an emergency is a good idea.

The CDC recommends a few other vaccines for people traveling to Ecuador but they are more "site specific." For example, malaria or yellow fever are not a problem in Loja and even though we have lots of dogs in the city, rabies is uncommon.

The only other CDC recommendation is a vaccination for typhoid, another disease one can get from contaminated food or water. Interestingly, they say one should get the shot "if you are an adventurous eater." I'll leave that up to you and your physician to decide if you need that bit of preventive healthcare.

One more thing to consider and that is the timing if you plan to travel, or move, to Loja. Hepatitis shots are given as a series. Hep A requires two doses given 6 months apart, and Hep B three or four doses over a period of 6 months. You can also opt for a combination vaccine of Hep A+B if your doctor agrees. For maximum protection you would, ideally, have completed your schedule at least one month prior to travel.

The point of this article is not to frighten anyone. Loja is not a hotbed of disease waiting to take down any innocent person wandering into its boundaries. Actually, Loja is a very healthy place to live and many expats who immigrate here find their health improving. No, the point of this blog post is to answer the frequently asked question of what inoculations are recommended and to that end I checked the CDC website for answers. Your own personal answers will best be discovered by talking with your own doctor who knows your healthcare history and can provide the best advice for you.

If you are currently living in Loja, where, when, and from whom you will obtain your vaccines differs significantly than getting them in North America and Europe. There are also vaccine recommendations based on advanced age, or compromised immune systems. These variables are beyond the scope of this blog article. If you need more information about obtaining vaccinations locally, please don't hesitate to contact Life in Loja for further assistance. We will be happy to help.


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