I’m travelling to South America later in the year and was wondering if it’s safe for me to have the recommended vaccinations including rabies, yellow fever, hepatitis A&B, typhoid. I’m 13 years post GBS with no residuals though my GP has advised me against having flu shots.
Hi Kay: This is one of the commonest questions we get asked and there is no simple answer. It is always important to weigh risk against benefits for any medical treatment and vaccinations are no exception. We know that the risk of getting GBS again after receiving any vaccination is extremely small. Without knowing the specifics of your travel I am unable to say for certain what risk you face of getting typhoid, yellow fever, etc. If you are mainly in cities with only brief forays into the countryside it is unlikely that you will be exposed to any of these diseases. If you are to spend significant time in mosquito-infested areas then yellow fever vaccination would be important. Unless you are going to be in an area rife with feral dogs I would avoid rabies vaccination since that can trigger GBS is produced in neural tissue as it often is in developing countries. I strongly recommend that you consult with an expert in travel medicine to help you determine just what vaccinations are highly recommended, based on your specific travel plans, and what can be safely be omitted. In the final analysis, your risk of getting GBS again is extremely small, regardless of which vaccinations you get.