Volunteering to Haiti What You Must Know Before Leaving
My sister works for the Health Department of the Township of Edison, New Jersey. Among the numerous things that I learned while volunteering at her worksite were vaccine information, problems caused through lack of info about sex and promiscuity, and the innumerable questions the public asks when calling this department. While it is nearly impossible to answer every question the public may have regarding their various needs, or service these needs. One question stood out in my mind that was asked yesterday: one of the city firemen was traveling to Haiti as a volunteer and needed the necessary shots before traveling. As a lay person, nearly every question people ask is news to me.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends the following immunizations before departing to help with disaster relief:
Hepatitis A or IG (immune globulin) provided you are healthy. Depending on the vaccine, you may need a second dose between six and eighteen months for long term protection.
Typhoid When travel is imminent, the injectable vaccine is recommended over the oral vaccine which is a series of pills taken over the course of a week.
Hepatitis B Again when travel is imminent, the first dose of the three dose series should be sufficient provided the series is continued upon your return home.
In addition to the diseases that can be prevented by vaccines, there are several other precautions which must be taken while in Haiti. The use of hand cleaners containing at least 60% alcohol must be used if clean water and soap are unavailable. Avoiding being contaminated by bodily fluids when dealing with dead bodies; this means to use protective face and eye coverings because the dead bodies can contain blood borne viruses and diarrhea causing bacteria.
Above all, malaria is another serious problem in Haiti; three things can help avoid this disease: prescription anti-malaria drugs, insect repellent and the use of bed netting.
Besides the above info, please be aware of other diseases that are prevalent in Haiti like HIV, tuberculosis and if dealing with animals; anthrax.
It is wise before departing for Haiti to check the website from the CDC for the most complete information one would need to know both before leaving and upon return http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/Haiti.aspx.
Most of all if you are going to Haiti to aid in the relief efforts, you have the love and respect of the world and we pray for your safe arrival and return. God bless you and your noble efforts!
My life experiences