The disaster in Haiti has left all of us wondering what we can do to help. Many of us have donated money and some are going to help. If you are considering going to Haiti to volunteer, here are some things you need to know.
The CDC has developed guidelines for relief workers and others traveling to Haiti. Check this site frequently for updates.
Before you depart you must have all your routine vaccinations current – tetanus and diphtheria, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), polio, seasonal and H1N1 flu and chickenpox (varicella). You will also need hepatitis A and B and typhoid.
If your departure is eminent, accelerated schedules of hepatitis A and B can be given. Even one dose will afford some protection.
Haiti has a high prevalence of HIV infection. To reduce the risk, always wear gloves when coming in contact with blood or any body fluids or touching any surfaces soiled with such. Find out from your group if you need to bring your own gloves.
Tuberculosis rates in Haiti are very high. A tuberculin skin test is recommended before you go and 6-8 weeks after you return. If you will be having direct contact with TB patients, wear an N-95 respirator mask.
Anthrax occurs in Haiti and is transmitted by direct contact with infected animals or with contaminated products from infected animals.
A visit to a travel health clinic is important prior to your trip for immunizations and prescriptions. If you think you are going to go, call your local travel health clinic and get prepared now.