Friday, December 19, 2008

Why Flu Vaccination Matters
Personal Stories from Families Affected by Influenza

Flu shots and FluMist are still available at all Passport Health Locations. To learn more about the flu go to our Influenza information page.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Far too many international travelers, from businesspeople to adventure tourists, leave home without taking appropriate steps to protect their health. People need to put the same kind of preparation into their health as they do into their destination choice, passport acquisition or flight plans.

Here are some health tips for international travelers:
Get advice from a travel health professional. Four to six weeks before departure, consult a travel medicine specialist for the most up-to-date immunization and safety recommendations. These professionals can answer your questions and prepare you for a safe and healthy trip.

Protect your feet with some kind of footwear — even on the beach.

Drink only bottled or purified water. Don’t use tap water when brushing your teeth, and always inspect the seal on bottled water.

Eat only well-cooked foods; avoid salads, uncooked vegetables, creamy desserts and food sold by street vendors. Though it may taste good, you will regret your decision when you are spending the rest of your trip in the hotel restroom.

Take a basic first-aid kit. Include medications for pain relief, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, topical preparations for minor skin wounds and infections, and medications for allergic reactions.

Liquid hand sanitizers. The little bottles that can get through security can give you peace of mind when using well-used restrooms. Should you wipe the seat divider on the plane? Absolutely, and other surfaces you’ll touch during your long flight.

Band-Aids. Can’t have too many of them when traveling. Take all sizes and types. Besides the cuts and scrapes, they’re good for stopping foot blisters before they start.

All these cautions could easily cause you to opt to stay at home under your covers. Remember, you can get hurt or sick here, too, so hit the road and enjoy what the world has to offer. With a little preparation and a visit to a travel health specialist, you’ll be fine and have some amazing memories, too.

If you are interested in purchasing some helpful travel accessories click here.

Thank you to The Executive Director of Passport Health Colorado, Michelle Reesman, R.N., for this very helpful information. Michelle holds a certificate in Travel Health from the International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Whooping Cough Outbreak!

Whooping Cough Outbreaks in Evanston, IL
5 Confirmed Cases; Passport Health Urges Vaccination

Evanston, IL– 11/13/2008- Five confirmed cases of Pertussis, also known as Whooping Cough, have been confirmed by health officials in North Evanston. The five confirmed cases of Whooping Cough have all affected children and two more cases are suspected.
“We recommend that adolescents especially get booster shots, as well as mothers that have just given birth,” said Dr. Stephen Schrantz, a pediatrician and infectious disease specialist, earlier today on an interview with a local news channel. “[They can get] a booster shot for Pertussis so that they can prevent this disease from occurring in the young children who are the most vulnerable.”

Pertussis is a highly infectious disease that is easily transmitted through coughing and sneezing. Although it typically affects young children, adults and adolescents can carry the bacteria and spread the disease. “We are urging that adolescents, women who just gave birth or are thinking about becoming pregnant, and those who are in contact with these populations to be vaccinated,” said Fran Lessans, CEO of Passport Health, the largest provider of travel medical services and vaccinations in the United States. “There have been five confirmed cases so this is officially an outbreak.”

The Whooping Cough kills close to 300,000 humans every year. It is transmitted by direct contact with airborne discharges from infected persons. Most fatalities occur in the new born population and infants.

“Patients with respiratory Pertussis require hospitalization, immediate treatment with Pertussis antitoxin, appropriate antibiotics, and supportive care,” added Lessans. “There is a very effective vaccination against Pertussis and it also protects you against Diphtheria and Tetanus.”

Symptoms usually appear 5 to 10 days following exposure and can last up to 21 days. The cough has a distinctive "whooping" sound in children and it may progress to vomiting. Sufferers may first experience cold-like symptoms followed by a very pronounced cough that can last for many weeks.
Most will recover completely, but some complications can be severe in high-risk groups, especially infants under one year and children who have not been fully immunized against the disease. Dr. Schrantz added that the vaccine does reduce the severity of the disease but the immunity does wane over time.
“The CDC, over the last couple years since they’ve noticed that more and more outbreaks have occurred, [has] recommended that people--adults and young adolescents--get booster shots to bring up their immunity,” concluded Schrantz.
Passport Health has 166 offices nationwide including clinics in Chicago, Hoffman States, Gurnee, Moline, and Vernon Hills. For more information visit or call 888-499-(PASS)

Click here to learn more about Whooping Cough.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Travel, Faith, Volunteering & Good Health Converge

Baltimore, MD – 11/10/2008- The first annual World Religious Travel Association (WRTA) Expo took place in Orlando, FL last week. The WRTA announced that 2009 will officially be the “Year of Faith Tourism”, with a three-fold goal of: highlighting the new era of Faith Tourism; increasing awareness of the personal and communal benefits of faith tourism; and, contributing to the global economy.

“We are part of something historic,” announced Fran Lessans, CEO of Passport Health and a panelist at the exposition. “We believe in the good that humans can do around the world. That is why we want to make sure that all faith travelers are properly immunized and educated before they leave.”

Passport Health’s Travel Medicine Specialists, who come on-site, administer and prescribe vaccinations and medications recommended by the CDC, WHO, and other world surveillance organizations that monitor outbreaks and other health hazards that affect travelers when they arrive at their destination. Services include a full range of immunizations, travel health information, protective vaccines for a healthy lifestyle, and on-site immunizations for groups and organizations, including flu clinics.

“Passport Health already sees hundreds of missionaries and volunteers. Being at the expo allowed us to inform attendees about our services and the importance of good health and up-to-date vaccinations,” added Lessans.
“Religious tour operators, volunteer vacation providers, churches, mission coordinators and Passport Health are working together to provide the best service possible to those who want to travel to help or to see first-hand where their faith began. We are honored to be a part of this organization.” Full Story

Click here for more information about how Passport Health can help you with your religious travel.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


TUESDAY, Nov. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Too few American adolescents with asthma and other high-risk illnesses are getting flu shots, a new study finds.

In children and adolescents with high-risk conditions, flu can lead to severe illness, hospitalization and even death.

Influenza vaccination has been recommended for adolescents with high-risk conditions for well over a decade," study author Mari Nakamura, a clinical fellow in pediatrics at Children's Hospital Boston, said in a Harvard Medical School news release.

Nakamura and colleagues concluded that both parents and health-care providers must be part of any intervention strategy designed to boost flu vaccination rates among high-risk adolescents. For example, letters to parents and electronic reminders to health-care providers have been shown to help improve vaccination rates.

Click here for more information about flu shots.

Thank you to and Health Day for this information.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Flu Shot May Be Your Best Shot

Who is at risk for the flu?
Anyone can get the flu, but young children, older adults, people with weakened immune systems and those with chronic illnesses are especially vulnerable. If you're at high risk of flu, your first line of defense is an annual flu shot. Although the shot doesn't offer 100 percent protection, it can reduce your chance of infection and help prevent serious complications if you do get sick.

How do I know if I have the flu?
Initially, the flu may seem like a common cold, with a runny nose, sneezing and sore throat. But colds usually develop slowly, whereas the flu tends to come on suddenly. And although a cold can be a nuisance, you usually feel much worse with the flu.

Common signs and symptoms of the flu include:
*Fever over 101 F. Children with the flu tend to have higher fevers than adults have — often as high as 103 to 105 F.
*Chills and sweats.
*Dry cough.
*Muscular aches and pains, especially in your back, arms and legs.
*Fatigue and weakness.
*Nasal congestion.
*Loss of appetite.
*Diarrhea and vomiting. Although children may have these signs, diarrhea and vomiting are rare in adults.

These steps can help you stay healthy, even at the height of flu season:
*Get an annual flu shot
*Wash your hands
*Eat right, sleep tight
*Exercise regularly
*Limit air travel
*Avoid crowds during flu season

All Passport Health locations have flu shots available as well as a knowledgeable team of medical professionals to assist you. Click here for your nearest Passport Health location.

Thanks to the Mayo Clinic and for this valuable information.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Shingles....what is it?

Shingles or Herpes Zoster is a disease caused by the varicella virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Once you’ve contracted the varicella virus, it never completely leaves the body, lying dormant along the nerve pathways. Sometimes however, it is reactivated when disease, stress or aging weakens the immune system.

What are the symptoms?
Shingles can first appear as flu-like symptoms with general malaise, sensitivity to light, tingling, itching or pain on one side of the body or face and progresses to a painful, blistering rash along the path of one or more nerves. It is characterized by excruciating pain. The rash is usually limited to one side of the body and may blister. The blisters will fill with fluid and eventually crust over. It generally takes 2 to 4 weeks for the blisters to heal. Fluid from shingles blisters is contagious and direct exposure can cause chicken pox in the unvaccinated or those without a history of having had chickenpox.

Can I get Shingles by being in contact with someone who has it already?
Exposure to a person with shingles cannot cause shingles. Usually shingles resolves spontaneously in one or two weeks. Although shingles can lead to serious complications, including persistent often debilitating nerve pain (Post Herpetic Neuralgia), scarring, skin infections, pneumonia, muscle weakness, and decrease or loss of vision or hearing.

What's the chance that I could get Shingles?
Your risk for shingles increases as you age. Almost half a million cases in the United States occur each year in people 60 years of age and older. Over 90% of adults in the US have had chickenpox and are at risk for shingles. Up to half of all people living to age 85 will develop shingles during their lifetime. It is estimated that up to 800,000 people in the United States suffer from shingles each year, and the incidence is expected to increase as the population ages.

How can I protect myself from Shingles?
The good news is that a new vaccine, Zostavax, has been approved for adults, 60 years or older to prevent shingles. Zostavax works by helping your immune system protect you from shingles after only one injection. Most people who have had shingles will not get it again although you can. Therefore, vaccination should be considered even if you have had the disease in the past. Approximately 25 to 50% of shingles patients older than 50 years of age develop post herpetic neuralgia (PHN). The older you are the higher the risk for complications from shingles.

For more info on Shingles and Zostavax, visit our website.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Passport Health, American Lung Association; Walking Together to Prevent Flu

Just in time for flu season, Passport Health, the nation’s largest provider of travel medical services and vaccinations, will offer flu shots Saturday, October 18 at the Eastern Shore Asthma Walk held by the American Lung Association of Maryland.

Passport Health will offer flu shots from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the event in Salisbury, MD, at the Salisbury City Park/Zoo on North Park Drive at Pavillion.

Passport Health will donate a portion of the proceeds from each shot to the American Lung Association of Maryland. Shots, which are $30 each, can be paid for with cash or check. The Eastern Shore Asthma Walk raises money for the American Lung Association of Maryland to fight asthma and lung disease in all its forms through education, research and advocacy.

“The donor receives something useful — a flu shot — while a portion of the proceeds go directly to the American Lung Association,” said Fran Lessans, CEO of Passport Health.

Vaccination is a safe and effective way to prevent influenza and its complications. On average, 36,000 Americans die and about 226,000 people are hospitalized each year due to the flu.

“Despite serious health risks associated with influenza, many people who are at high risk of contracting the flu are not getting immunized,” says Norman Edelman, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the American Lung Association. “More than 4 out of 5 Americans should be vaccinated every year, which means it’s likely each one of us knows someone whose well-being, good health or life depends on getting an influenza immunization each and every year.”

To learn more about the Asthma Walk and flu coupons visit:, or

Friday, October 10, 2008

Flu Shot or not?

Addressing the Top Flu Vaccine Myths

10. Hand washing is more effective than getting the vaccine.
The good news is people have heard the message about hygiene and flu prevention. The bad news is people mistakenly believe that hand washing alone will prevent influenza.

What YOU Can Do: Promote immunization, hand washing, and antiviral medication as a three-part flu protection strategy.

9. Only the very old and the very young need the flu shot.
Young children and the elderly are at high risk from flu complications, but people of all ages can become sick-and they can pass the virus on to others.

What YOU Can Do: Encourage flu vaccination as “a way to protect yourself and others.” Many people are more compelled to get a flu shot if they know it will protect a loved one’s health.

8. Flu shots are scarce and hard to find.
Manufacturers have more than doubled the amount of flu vaccine produced since 2004, and this year’s supply is projected to be ample.

What YOU Can Do: Spread the message that anyone who wants a flu vaccine should be able to find it.

7.Getting a flu shot is a hassle.
In addition to health care offices, many flu clinics are hosted in convenient places, such as work sites, pharmacies, supermarkets, and schools. Also, many organizations are holding Vote and Vax clinics at or near polling sites on Election Day, giving people another easy option.

What YOU Can Do: Publicize locations of flu clinics in your area, and consider helping needy groups find transportation to clinics if necessary.

6. Flu shots don’t work.
Each year scientists develop vaccines based on projections for the upcoming flu season-and they’ve made successful matches 16 of the last 21 years. Even if a person becomes ill from a strain not covered by the vaccine, a flu shot can minimize symptoms and speed up recovery.

What YOU Can Do: Acknowledge that there may be unexpected changes in the flu strain, but stress that the vaccine has a long success rate for preventing the flu and can help make the disease less severe if contracted.

5. Flu shots will make you sick.
Flu vaccines are very safe, but like any medicine, side effects may occur. Most often they are mild and include soreness from the injection, aches, and low grade fever. The flu vaccine, however, cannot give anyone the flu.

What YOU Can Do: Educate people about side effects and explain that they may occur as the body develops immunity. Point out that these symptoms are much less severe than getting the flu.

4. There are unsafe ingredients in flu shots.
Recent media speculation about vaccine safety may raise concerns about the flu shot. The vaccine, however, has a strong safety record. Healthcare providers can address questions and help patients make an informed choice.

What YOU Can Do: Encourage medical providers to talk to their patients about the flu vaccine and provide resources, such as brochures, posters, and PSAs, to encourage dialogue. Visit the CDC influenza Web site for free resources (

3. Flu shots are expensive.
Flu shots average about $25-$35 a dose. Medicare Part B and Vaccines for Children provide flu shots at no cost to those who qualify. Many employers provide free vaccines to their employees, and university health centers often provide discounted immunizations for students. Even if paying out of pocket, the cost of a flu shot is far less than the costs associated with missing work and needing health care.

What YOU Can Do: Connect low and middle income people with resources to obtain free or reduced cost immunizations.

2. If I don’t get my flu shot early, than it’s not worth it.
There is no time limit on when to get flu vaccine. Immunization can begin as soon as the vaccine is available and can extend through February or later- when the flu season typically peaks.

What YOU Can Do: Promote National Influenza Vaccination Week from December 8-14th to encourage those not vaccinated to get their flu shot. Visit for more information.

1. I don’t need to get immunized, because the flu is no big deal.
Many people mistakenly attribute cold symptoms, mild illness, and even digestive upset to the flu, not realizing that influenza is a serious, sometimes life threatening respiratory infection.

What YOU Can Do: Educate your community about the seriousness of the flu, so people understand the need for immunization. Personal narratives are effective ways to deliver this message. The CDC ( and Families Fighting Flu Web sites ( have videos and fact sheets to help with your outreach efforts.

All Passport Health Locations have Flu shots available immediately. All locations also offer on-site flu shot clinics for your convenience and the convenience of your co-workers and staff.

At Passport Health we are working hard to keep everyone healthy this flu season, so be sure to get your flu shot!

Thank you to the Immunizations Coalition for all the helpful information!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Flu Season is here!

Its never too early to get your flu shot. If you haven't gotten your flu shot yet for this flu season, be sure to do so soon! All Passport Health locations have the new flu vaccine available now.

PARENTS: Immunize your children!

According to this article from the Detroit Free Press:

The number of deaths wasn't high -- 73 during the 2006-07 flu season -- but there was more than a fivefold increase in hard-to-treat complications. Preliminary figures indicate deaths increased again during this past winter's flu season.

Public health officials say the numbers underscore the importance of a new recommendation that all children ages 6 months through 18 years get routine flu shots. Before this year, shots were recommended for children younger than 5.

To book a flu clinic for your business or to locate your nearest Passport Health office please visit our locations page.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Keeping Your Employees Healthy During America’s Financial Crisis

The economic downturn, which started months ago with the almost fatal collapse of giant Countrywide Financial, has progressed to derail institutions like Lehman Brothers and most recently Wachovia, the U.S.’s fourth largest bank. As Wall Street continues to hemorrhage, companies nationwide brace for a rough fourth quarter and have already began to downsize.

Keeping core employees healthy and on the job is of utmost importance during this downturn so that customer service and productivity are not compromised. So how do you keep those core employees’ productivity up? You encourage them to participate in a company-wide flu immunization program says Fran Lessans, CEO of Passport Health, a nationwide travel medicine company that provides vaccinations, education and medications to international travelers.

"Your employees are crucial to your company’s day-to-day operations,” explains Lessans, whose company also provides on-site flu clinics for some of the largest corporations in the U.S. “If your employees have taken on added responsibilities as a result of downsizing it would not be good if they get sick and have to miss work because of the flu."

In a well publicized article, CNN reported that the flu costs the U.S. economy nearly $10 billion dollars each year in lost productivity and wages. “Influenza is spread when people work closely together or touch infected surfaces,” cautioned Lessans. "If you have a small office the flu can literally shut down your entire operation and that is why employers should encourage all workers to get their annual flu shot."

To learn more about the flu and flu clinics for your employees please visit us online or call 1-888-499-PASS(7277).

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Questions and Answers About Immunization Recommendations Following a Disaster

Now that some of the flood waters have receded and the clean up after Hurricane Ike is fully underway, many are asking the questions below regarding life saving vaccines to keep them healthy:

Q: Will persons who have not completed the entire hepatitis B vaccine series be protected against the virus?

A: About 75-80% of adults who have received 2 valid doses of vaccine have developed a protective antibody level. Standard precautions to protect against exposure to blood or blood-containing fluids should be used. If a responder who is not fully vaccinated comes into contact with blood or body fluids, post exposure precautions should be taken according to previously published recommendations .

Q: Is it okay to get the hepatitis A vaccine around the same time as the hepatitis B vaccine?

A: Yes. Hepatitis A vaccine and hepatitis B vaccine do not interfere with each other and are often given together.

Q: What vaccines are recommended for evacuees of a disaster?

A: The major concern for anyone exposed to unsanitary conditions is that they be up to date with tetanus-containing vaccine, because if they are injured (as is common in disaster settings) the injury is likely to be contaminated. Routinely recommended vaccines are recommended for evacuees, just like they are for everyone else. Full CDC recommendations for vaccines for evacuees are posted on our website at

All Passport Health locations have all routine immunizations in stock and on hand daily. To locate the Passport Health Office nearest to you to receive vaccinations please click here.

Full list of Q&A

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pregnant moms, get a flu shot now and protect your child!

According to a study led by Mark C. Steinhoff, MD, at Baltimore's Johns Hopkins University, a mom can protect her baby for up to 6 months by getting a flu shot while pregnant.

"Our study shows that a newborn's risk of infection can be greatly reduced by vaccinating Mom during pregnancy. It's a two-for-one benefit," Steinhoff says in a news release. "Infants under six months have the highest rates of hospitalization from influenza among children in the U.S."

Because a child under 6 months of age cannot get a flu shot and it takes at least 2 flu shots to be fully effective, there is a time gap where the child is unprotected. See the rest of the story here.

Passport Health locations have new shipments of the influenza vaccine already and have begun administering flu shots nationwide. To locate the Passport Health office nearest to you please go to:

Friday, September 12, 2008

Forecast for Ike: Ike is not backing down! Attention Volunteers.

"All neighborhoods ... and possibly entire coastal communities ... will be inundated during the peak storm tide," the weather service warned. "Persons not heeding evacuation orders in single family one- or two-story homes will face certain death."

It seems now with Ike gaining strength every hour, the people of the gulf coast are once again right in danger's path. The top priority of the nation is to get as many people out of harm's way as possible, but the danger does not end when Ike's winds die down, in fact, that is just the beginning. We were all hoping Ike would lose its fury before it reached landfall, but the forecast is just the opposite.

Always, in the midst of tragedy, people of our nation bind together and work with one another to help the victims. Our request is simple: Protect the Volunteers!

It is very important to be sure that each and every volunteer has the right information concerning life saving vaccinations; especially if they are Ike first responders, entering flooded areas, or engaged in reconstruction work. These vaccines would include Hepatitis A & B, Influenza, Tetanus/Diptheria/Pertussis and Typhoid for water exposure.

For more information about these life saving vaccines please visit our website.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Gustav Volunteers, First Respondents Vaccine Information

Citizens of New Orleans, their neighbors, volunteers and all of us in the United States are once again reminded of the vulnerability of our infrastructure and its direct relationship on local economies. Although Gustav was far from being a “Katrina”, the eyes of the world followed the storm’s every move.

"I think we dodged the big one," commented battalion commander Lt. Col. Marc Kelly shortly after surveying New Orleans’ most recent storm damage on a tour of the city soon after Gustav moved out

Americans are quick to respond privately to disasters and will continue to drive and fly to volunteer on-site and reestablish communications networks, medical facilities and both off and on-shore construction projects as the environment demands.

To minimize the risk to responders, teams of volunteers traveling to the sites affected, it is critical to make sure that they are protected with appropriate life saving vaccinations. These would include Hepatitis A & B, Influenza, Tetanus/Diptheria/Pertussis and Typhoid for water exposure. Additionally, action plans that minimize the opportunity for certain vector borne diseases --such as Dengue Fever—to develop are important to implement.

Passport Health has and will continue to respond to the needs of responders and volunteers nationwide ensuring their safety and minimizing risk related to diseases: water borne, food borne or vector. The day after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Passport Health teams went into the most afflicted areas and immunized utility personnel, contractors and first responders, once again demonstrating the nimbleness and expertise of our nationwide staff.

To see a list of the location closest to you click here.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Beijing Olympics & Health Part II

Shanghai–Essential vaccinations for Shanghai living ( include: Influenza, Hep A & B, Varicella(chicken pox), Typhoid fever, Rabies, Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio and Japanese Encephalitis. Hepatitis A is a liver disease contracted from contaminated food and water with symptoms including fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, upset stomach, stomach pain, dark urine, as well as yellowing of the skin and eyes. The CDC recommends getting the Hep A vaccine, which consists of 2 shots, as well as eating foods that are well cooked and drinking bottled beverages. Hepatitis B is a liver disease contracted by contact with blood or other bodily fluids from an infected person. The virus called Hepatitis B virus (HBV), can cause life long infection, cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver cancer, failure or in worst cases, death. The CDC recommends getting your Hepatitis B vaccine which is available for all ages in the United States.

Qinhuangdao – Mosquitoes are a problem in this city. A survey was conducted at Qinhuangdao Port to determine if the mosquitoes in the country were coming via ship and the majority were found positive for mosquitoes at 57% (417/734) *. Precautions should be taken using repellant containing DEET applied to the skin, as well as spraying clothing with permethrin.

Tianjin – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreaks reported. If infected, the CDC recommends the same treatment that would be given to a patient that was diagnosed with a community- acquired atypical pneumonia as mentioned previously.

Shenyang – Air pollution is a serious concern for Shenyang residents, the poor air quality results in respiratory diseases such as bronchial asthma and wheeze. Ways to avoid respiratory problems include avoiding heavy activity during the hottest times of the day, and wearing a particle mask if you feel like you are at risk and unable to get indoors. HPV is also fairly common in Shenyang, with a study conducted in the city on 685 females aged 15-59 years old finding HPV in 16.8% overall, and 13.6% in women without cervical abnormalities. HPV is the most common STI (sexually transmitted infection) and infects the skin and mucous membranes for both males and females. The majority of people who have HPV are unaware they have it. HPV can cause genital warts as well as some forms of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer does not have symptoms until it is at advanced stages, so it is important for women to get checked regularly by their physicians. Condoms are one way to decrease the risk of HPV when used during sexual intercourse. The best way to prevent HPV is through vaccination which consists of three injections over a six month period.

For more information on preparing for travel overseas travelers can contact Passport Health, a company dedicated and specializing in travel medicine and health with locations throughout the continental United States. Passport Health offers services including travel information on countries and cultures all over the world, travel kits with items from anti-diarrheal medicine to bug lotion and spray with DEET, as well as recommendations and the ability to provide any vaccinations travelers may need when traveling outside of the United States. To find your nearest Passport Health location call (1-888) 499-PASS or visit

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

2008 Beijing Olympics & Health

With the opening ceremonies being held on August 8th, Beijing is preparing to host the 2008 summer Olympics. Along with Beijing, six other locations will host events including: Qingdao, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Qinhuangdao, Tianjin and Shenyang. As athletes, celebrities and civilians prepare to travel to this years games, the awareness of cultural practices and health concerns are amongst the travelers’ everyday thoughts. Depending on where people decide to travel to observe or participate in the events, specific precautions and procedures must be taken to ensure they will protect themselves against disease and illness while away from their home countries. With the official slogan of this years games as “One world, one dream”. Beijing would like to be remembered as a worry-free city and host, and avoid the media informing the rest of the world of any preventable diseases or sicknesses spreading through the heavily populated area during the summer games.

A record 202 countries participated in the previous summer Olympic Games held in Athens, Greece and this years events will be sure to be a highly covered and viewed event worldwide. This also means that with the added number of visitors to the already densely populated city, illness can spread quickly and easily through the cities residents. The following list includes the locations events will be held and the most common diseases as well as information on what you can do to help prevent contracting the disease or illnesses:

Qingdao – SARS and Influenza. SARS is an airborne illness spread by close interpersonal contact through respiratory droplets. The best advice to avoid contracting the illness is to avoid those infected, stay away from people who are coughing or displaying symptoms and avoid sharing food or beverages with others when traveling or being around unfamiliar people. If infected, the CDC recommends the same treatment that would be given to a patient that was diagnosed with a community- acquired atypical pneumonia. Influenza also known as the flu, affects 5-20% of the U.S. population every year according to the CDC, and is best prevented with a yearly vaccination.

Hong Kong – The number of Mosquitoes in the area has been increasing. This increase has caused related illnesses such as dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis. In Hong Kong’s earlier years as a British colony, malaria was a “major killer”. The pig-borne disease Streptococcus suis has also become a recent concern for Hong Kong residents, with symptoms including fever, headache and neck pain. SARs has also been a medical issue for Hong Kong’s residents over the past few years. Dengue Fever is transmitted to humans by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which typically likes to feed in daylight. Symptoms include a sudden onset of fever, accompanied by severe headache, muscle and joint pain as well as rash. There are no current vaccines available, however, contracting the disease from mosquitoes can be avoided by using mosquito spray with DEET on your skin and spraying clothing with permethrin. Japanese encephalitis is also transmitted by mosquitoes, with symptoms including changes in mood, headache and fever accompanied by weakness. People bitten rarely display these symptoms, however in some cases they can occur. Japanese Encephalitis is vaccine preventable through a series of 3 shots. The CDC recommends this vaccine series if you are planning on traveling to China for more than 30 days.

For more information on preparing for travel overseas travelers can contact Passport Health, a company dedicated and specializing in travel medicine and health with locations throughout the continental United States. Passport Health offers services including travel information on countries and cultures all over the world, travel kits with items from anti-diarrheal medicine to bug lotion and spray with DEET, as well as recommendations and the ability to provide any vaccinations travelers may need when traveling outside of the United States. To find your nearest Passport Health location call (1-888) 499-PASS or visit

Friday, April 18, 2008

Traveler to Malawi and Ethiopia blogs about travel vaccines and Passport Health


Once in a while our customers are so fascinated with our service that they decide to write about their experiences with Passport Health on their blog. This was her first time going to a travel health clinic. She found it to be a very pleasant and convenient experience.

Click Here to see what immunizations she received, declined and to read the rest of the story on her blog.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Measles Awareness Report

In 2007, when Japanese tourists were restricted from the flight home from Canada due to 1-2 members of the group contracting the measles disease , every person in the 42-person group who did not have a record of being vaccinated for measles had to be quarantined for 3-5 days before being allowed to complete their trip back to Japan. In 2004, 25% of students contracted measles while on a trip to India and the containment efforts have been estimated to cost $142,452 (Dayan GH, Ortega-Sanchez IR, LeBaron CW, et al. Iowa, 2004. Pediatrics 2005; 116:e1-e4).

Due to low vaccine coverage in areas with high reports of the disease and the increase of tourism travel to these areas, eradication programs continue to be complicated and face resistence. Many people aren’t fully aware of the disease itself, much less the need for vaccination against it. Even in the United States, measles are starting to outbreak due to people who have not been properly vaccinated coming back from overseas travel to areas where the disease is prevelant. The latest report of outbreak is ongoing in Arizona and is linked to importation; the alert was sent on April 3, 2008 via a Health Advisory to all healthcare providers.

Measles is a highly contagious infectious diseas, with potentially fatal complication, and still stands as a cause of public health concern in developing countries (ISTM, Journal of Travel Medicine, Volume 15, Issue 2, 2008, pp144-145). It is recommended that anyone born after 1957 get properly vaccinated with a primary series as a pediatric and one booster as an adult. Passport Health offers the MMR (Mumps, Measles, Rubella) vaccine in all of our locations, please call us at: 1-888-499-PASS (7277) if you have further questions or concerns.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Flu Outbreaks Increase in United States

Passport Health, the largest provider of vaccines in the United States has already conducted several flu clinics nationwide. “The reality is that several Baltimore area hospitals are reporting crowded emergency rooms,” says Jorge Eduardo Castillo, Passport Health’s spokesman. “People are complaining of flu like symptoms like headache, body aches, coughs and fever, and test results that are positive for flu have almost doubled in the period from late January to February 6 2008.” Flu season last year was relatively smooth; and a lot of that can be attributed to above average immunization rates. “After a season like we had in 2006-2007, people can become complacent and not get their shot altogether.” explains Castillo. “The fact is that flu season will continue until May in Maryland and it is not too late to get your shot. Even if the vaccine does not match the virus strains 100% it still helps, and you can always get FLU MIST, the spray version of the vaccine which is 87% effective even with viral shift.”

Because they are the largest purchasers of vaccines in the nation, Passport Health has an excellent relationship with its suppliers as well as unmatched buying power. “The only entity that buys more vaccines than Passport Health is the federal government. That says a lot about our company,” states founder and CEO Fran Lessans. With over 150 locations nationwide Passport Health is the only network of clinics that specializes in providing vaccines of all kinds. “It is not so much the quantity of doses available in the U.S. that matters. What matters is how they are distributed. Our network does that. We get the vaccines from New York to San Francisco.”

The influenza virus can have a major impact on families and businesses. Each year, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized in the United States—a direct result of influenza. According to the CDC 36,000 Americans die yearly because of influenza. Young children, the elderly, and the immuno-compromised are at greatest risk. The CDC urges those at high risk to get vaccinated, including health care workers, pregnant women, and children ages 6 months to 5 years. Also at risk are asthmatics, anyone who’s 50 or older or who has diabetes, heart disease and other chronic health conditions. Caretakers of individuals at risk should also consider the vaccine. “The CDC also recommends that those who are 65 or older be immunized against Pneumococcal pneumonia. That is the number one complication of the flu. We have plenty of both vaccines available now, including Flu Mist” said Lessans regarding the seriousness of both illnesses. A new version of Flu Mist, the nasal spray flu vaccine, was recently approved for use in children ages 2 to 5.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Yellow Fever Strikes Brazil

On January 15, 2008, the Brazilian Ministry of Health confirmed three more deaths from yellow fever (YF): two in Goias and one in Parana, bringing the total of confirmed cases of YF in 2008 to six, with five deaths. Their are still fifteen suspected cases under investigation. This is more than any year since 2003, when there were sixty four cases with twenty-three deaths.

One of the fatal cases was an unvaccinated Spanish visitor, who died after two days in a hospital in Goiania on January 12, having been ill for about ten days in the city where the vector mosquito was found. The area has been fogged with insecticide. The man contracted his infection at a farm in Cristianopolis, 103 km (64 mi) from Goiania, where he had spent fifteen days. In an earlier report, his widow complained to the press that they saw no YF warning or proof of vaccination check at Sao Paulo international airport on their arrival on Novemner 25, nor at Salvador or Goiania airports on their travels since.

The Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, which produces YF vaccine, has suspended all exports of the vaccine, and is doubling its production from 15 to 30 million doses this year (2008). It normally supplies 7 million doses to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) for distribution to other countries in the Americas.

On January 10, the US Department of State issued an alert, in English, to all its citizens in Brazil, advising them to get vaccinated. It is recommended that all international travelers receive the Yellow Fever vaccination prior to arrival in Brazil.

~Blog adapted from proMED