As soon as you know you’re departure date, make sure you start getting vaccinated. In my case I needed vaccinations against rabies, typhoid fever and yellow fever.
Rabies vaccination: highly recommended
In countries where rabies is an issue, you need at least a bit more than one month ahead as you get three doses (the second dose one week after the first one; the third dose three weeks after the second one). Only then immunity is guaranteed.
I was recommended to get a fourth and last dose after one year to built a lifelong immunity against this dangerous viral disease.
The vaccine contains inactivated disease-causing agents, hence it’s quite well tolerated. Only up to 15% of ppl who get vaccinated have slight side-effects (headache, mild fever).
I was lucky, I didn’t feel anything except for a very mild feeling of a sore muscle where the injection was set.
Typhoid fever: recommended (not to be confused with typhus)
To get vaccinated against typhoid fever is especially then important when you, like me, plan on backpacking through a country rather than staying in star-ranked hotels.
One dose is enough for 3 years, after that, if you plan on traveling again to areas with typhoid fever, the next dose is recommended.
In general, this vaccine is well tolerated. In my case again I had no side-effects whatsoever.
Yellow fever: highly recommended
Yellow fever is widespread in tropical and subtropical areas and is transmitted by mosquitoes. In some countries it’s not only important to have this vaccination, but even mandatory to get into the country at all. For example, in Bolivia, it might happen, that an immigration officer wants to see your certificate of vaccination to make sure you are immune against yellow fever, especially when coming directly from a country with yellow fever…otherwise they can just send you back to where you came from.
This vaccine contains viable pathogens. This results in that up to 30% of the vaccinated ppl develop side-effects like mild fever, headache or some allergic rash. Luckily one shot is enough for a lifelong immunity; immunity is given after around one month after the vaccination.
Don’t forget to bring your International Certificate of Vaccination to every vaccination appointment, and also always carry it with you while you travel.