The American Travel Health Nurses Association (ATHNA) offers these guidelines for consumers to help them choose a travel clinic.
1. Look for a clinic that offers customized care. Your pre-travel visit should include an in-person assessment and focus on an individualized plan specific to your health history, destination, and potential activities.
2. Ask about counseling to reduce the non-vaccine preventable risks of travel. Pre-travel preparation is more than just immunizations. Your visit should include sufficient time to address issues such as malaria, altitude illness, dengue, jet lag, and traveler’s diarrhea.
3. Ask about clinic charges and payment. Charges vary widely and many travel health costs are not reimbursed by health insurance. Costs for vaccines continue to rise. Know that some clinics work on a commission basis and providers receive a percentage of the total bill. Be aware of potential conflicts of interest.
4. Inquire about the training and experience of your provider. Quality pre-travel care is offered by many health professionals, including MDs, NPs, RNs, PAs and pharmacists. However, there are few national standards for entry into practice. While membership in a professional organization, such as ISTM, ASTMH, and ATHNA, is no guarantee, it may suggest a larger commitment to the specialty.
5. Think about finding a clinic early, even before you make final payment for your trip. While most travelers need only one visit to prepare for their journey, others may require multiple visits. Ideally, you should start 4 to 6 weeks ahead of departure. However, it is never too late to receive pre-travel care. Travelers seen just hours before a flight can still reduce important travel risks.