Recommended vaccines for Peru
Following my list of publications of interest for travelers, I’m going to answer another one of those key questions: do I need any vaccinations to go to Peru?
The first thing I recommend is you ask this question to a doctor specialized in this field. Vaccines needed depends on the route you’re going to do and doctors are better informed. It’s not the same just going to Lima, Cuzco and Machu Picchu, where you don’t necessary need them, that walking through the jungle, the desert, or a village in need.
In Spain the majority of these vaccines are free and you only have to pay, and little money for the treatment against malaria and typhoid fever (I guess in Europe it will be is similar). If you’re going to travel all around Peru, these are what you need (information provided by the doctor and travelling companion Laura Viñuales – thank you!).
- Hepatitis A: it’s mainly spread through ingestion of contaminated food and water, and direct contact with infected people. Young travelers to endemic areas are the main indication for vaccination. You must take the first dose, at least, one month before your trip, being permanently immune if you have taken the second dose within six months. Moving on from vaccines and diseases, you should use your common sense and bear in mind the following tips in relation to personal care and sanitation during your trip: not to drink tap water in the country, neither ice in your drinks and wash your hands frequently as well as sanitize the food before eating it.
- Typhoid fever: it’s more common in developing countries and the vaccination against it is recommended especially in case you travel to rural areas. The disease is spread through contaminated food and water. In fact hygiene measures are the best prevention given that the effectiveness of the vaccine is limited. The process of vaccinations consists of three capsules wich must be taken orally with cold liquid on alternate days, one hour before meals.
Besides those diseases already mentioned, in which any case you should be vaccinated against them, even if you’re planning a small tour across the country, there are other kind of diseases whose vaccines are highly recommended too.
- Malaria: if you visit the Amazon and the surrounding area, it’s important to be protected against malaria. It’s a parasitic disease widespread in tropical countries and it’s transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes. The basic rules for protection are: avoid mosquito bites (it’s recommend using repellents with permethrin, wich are effective (but not infallible) against mosquitoes in tropical areas) and take the recommended prophylaxis, consisting of taking a series of pills before you go into the malarious area, during and after having left the zone. Of course, even if you have followed all these preventive measures, it’s important to seek medical assistance immediatly if symptoms such as fever, sweats and chills apper.
- Yellow fever is a viral disease wich is also transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. Vaccination is compulsory to visit some countries. In the case of Peru, recommended if you go to specific parts of the country like Puerto Maldonado and other areas specified in the International Vaccination Center. After having received the vaccine, you will be provided with a document (International Certificate of Vaccination) to be submitted, if it’s necessary, to enter or leave the country.
- Dengue: there isn’t any prophylaxis against it and this is the reason why travelers should prevent mosquito bites during the day and the evening especially in those places where dengue is present, for instance in some areas of South America. The risk of infection is lower above 1000 m altitude.
- Chagas: it’s a disease caused by a parasite. It’s really common in Latin America and it’s spread by infected insects, especially bed bugs. Early symptoms such as fever, flu symptoms or swollen eyelid usually disappear spontaneously. However, later it can cause serious intestinal and heart diseases later on without an accurate prognosis. Using repellents, mosquito nets and reviewing carefully the environment in which we sleep is important for prevention.
If you don’t know exactly the route you’re going to do, my recommendation is that you get all the vaccines to travel safely. These vaccines don’t usually cause many side effects, sometimes just mild fever or gastrointestinal discomfort in the next 24 hours after having been vaccinated. Peru has loads of places to see and vaccination should never be the reason to determine your trip.