Protect Your Health and Finances with Travel Evacuation Insurance

Be prepared for any medical emergency while traveling


Whether you’re taking an international trip for business or pleasure, the last thing you want to do is risk your health and financial future by being unprepared for a medical emergency. Illnesses, acute conditions and injuries can occur anywhere and happen to anyone at any time. You can help protect yourself by considering health and travel insurance policies specific to your trip.

What Is Travel Health and Medical Evacuation Insurance?

There are three main types of travel-related health insurance to consider for your international trip. These include:

  • Travel health insurance. If you have a chronic medical condition, this type of insurance helps to ensure that you’ll receive the same high-quality care you’d expect at home in North America.
  • Medical evacuation insurance. If you suffer from an injury or sudden acute event such as a heart attack, medical evacuation insurance covers the cost of transportation to get you to medical facilities with the high standard of care you’d receive at home in the United States or Canada.
  • Trip cancellation insurance. Perhaps a hurricane, civil conflict or a personal issue in your life has gotten in the way of your trip. This type of insurance reduces your financial losses from canceling your plane tickets, lodging and other travel-related expenses.

Who Should Get Travel Health and Medical Evacuation Insurance?

Even if you’re healthy, stay active and have no known medical conditions, insurance is still a good way to protect yourself. One fall on a hiking trail and your necessary evacuation on a medical helicopter or private jet to a hospital could set you back tens of thousands of dollars without the right type of insurance. In some places around the world, you may have to pay the cost of your treatment and transportation on the spot before any service is provided. In the event that you are unable to complete the duration of your trip, travel health insurance and medical evacuation insurance may reimburse you for your expenses. Without these insurance policies, you could be taken to a subpar facility without the medical services, diagnostic equipment, supplies and treatment that you require. Obtaining adequate travel and international health insurance coverage helps to ensure that you’ll get the care you need at a place with exemplary standards of care.

Preparing for a Healthy International Trip

Taking a few steps before you depart on an international trip can help ensure you’re ready for the rigors of this type of travel. A pre-travel health consultation with a travel health specialist can ascertain whether you’re in need of any vaccinations. You can also receive preventative medications, such as anti-malarial drugs based upon your travel destination, and tips on packing for a healthy trip. You’ll learn which over the counter medications, first aid supplies, mosquito repellant, sunscreen and water purification kits will help keep you healthy.

With the right travel health steps and proper insurance policies, you keep yourself firmly in charge of your health. Especially if you are traveling on a mission trip, doing medical volunteer work, or engaging in extreme adventure travel, be sure you are prepared for any eventuality!

Passport Health: 3 Types of Travel Health Insurance to Consider
Centers for Disease Control: Travel Insurance, Travel Health Insurance and Medical Evacuation Insurance Why You Need Medical Travel Insurance Your Checklist for International Travel

Outbreak of Whooping Cough Continues in North America

Infant getting vaccinated


Whooping cough is an illness caused by the bacterium Bordetella pertussis. It’s spread from person to person through coughing or sneezing. After a one to two week incubation period, symptoms including cough and shortness of breath develop. The illness can last six weeks or longer, and those infected are contagious for the duration of the illness. While whooping cough is a vaccine preventable disease, the number of cases has drastically increased, including recent outbreaks throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The Whooping Cough Outbreak

Outbreaks of whooping cough are occurring simultaneously throughout the U.S. and Canada. From small towns to medium cities and metropolises, whooping cough seems to be everywhere. Those who are becoming ill range from migrant farm workers in Mattawa, WA to children in California or adults in Boston and throughout Canada.

Why Are There So Many Whooping Cough Cases?

Many communities have seen more cases this year than were reported in the entire U.S. or Canada just a few years ago. A less effective vaccine, a reduction in childhood vaccination rates as well as a population of adults who were never vaccinated against whooping cough make up several of the reasons why there are currently so many cases of the disease in the U.S. and Canada. Public health officials analyzing vaccination rates have found that personal belief exemption rates for opposition to vaccination is perhaps the leading cause of the increase in cases of the disease. Adults may show just a mild cough or even no symptoms, yet they can spread the disease to infants and children, sometimes with disastrous consequences.

How to Protect Yourself Against Whooping Cough

The best way to protect yourself, your family and those you come into contact with is to get vaccinated. Vaccination is particularly important for pregnant women, infants, child care workers, parents and grandparents of young children and anyone who works in a healthcare setting. Many adults do not realize that vaccination against whooping cough does not confer lifelong immunity. In fact, a booster is needed about every 10 years to maintain your defenses against whooping cough. Pregnant women can get a vaccine or a booster during the third trimester of pregnancy so that antibodies are passed along to the baby. Infant immunization can begin as early as the age of six weeks. In addition to vaccination, anyone who has a cough for more than 7 days should be evaluated by a physician. Up to 20 percent of coughs lasting for 7 days or longer in adults are caused by whooping cough.

Who Should Get Vaccinated

Anyone who comes into contact with infants or children should get a whooping cough vaccination or booster shot. Because the youngest of infants are at the greatest risk of complications and death, a protective circle of vaccination of all their caregivers is essential to reducing their risk of this potentially deadly infection. School-age children should also receive a booster shot, especially if they have younger siblings at home.

Scheduling Your Vaccination

You can get a whooping cough vaccination or booster shot from a Passport Health travel health specialist. You can also receive information about staying healthy during travel, getting immunizations for international trips, using sunscreen, selecting mosquito repellent and protecting your overall health.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Vaccines
C-Health: Whooping Cough
The Boston Globe: With Disease’s Resurgence, Officials Urge Whooping Cough Boosters
The California Report: Sonoma County Has Highest Whooping Cough Rate in Statewide Epidemic
California Department of Public Health: California Whooping Cough Epidemic Continues Whooping Cough Outbreak Continues in Mattawa

What is Ebola and How Does it Spread?

West African Nurse washing hands


The largest Ebola outbreak in all of history is happening in West Africa, right now. The uncontrolled outbreak has primarily affected the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Previously, the disease had not affected large cities; however, the pandemic has made its way to all three of the West African capitals. Most recently, Ebola has spread to Nigeria, where there are now reported cases of infection.

What is Ebola?

Ebola is the virus that causes Ebola hemorrhagic fever (Ebola HF). Ebola HF belongs to a group of diseases called “viral hemorrhagic fevers” (VHF). It is a severe and often deadly disease that infects humans and non-human primates (which include chimpanzees, gorillas, and moneys). Ebola HF is caused by the virus, Ebolavirus, which has five subspecies. Only four identified subspecies infect humans: Ebola virus (Zaire ebolavirus); Sudan virus (Sudan ebolavirus); Taï Forest virus (Taï Forest ebolavirus, formerly known as Côte d’Ivoire ebolavirus); and Bundibugyo virus (Bundibugyo ebolavirus). The fifth subspecies, Reston virus (Reston ebolavirus), has only caused disease in non-human primates.

The current outbreak is of the Zaire strain. This strain of Ebola is known to be the deadliest of the five.

How does Ebola spread?

Experts believe that the virus is zoonotic, or animal-borne. Although the natural reservoir of the virus is unknown, they believe that bats are most likely the reservoir. Four of the five subspecies of Ebola are identified in an animal host native to Africa.

Once the disease is present in humans, it is spread human-to-human through close contact. Human-to-human transmission is not airborne. The virus cannot pass through air, water, or food, but occurs through contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. These bodily fluids include blood, semen, sweat, and vomit.

There is no vaccine or cure for Ebola. The treatment given to people who have been infected with Ebola is supportive care to make them as comfortable as possible while the disease runs its course.

How can I keep from getting Ebola?

Although there is currently no vaccine for Ebola, the following steps are recommended to prevent from getting the virus:

  • Staying away from people who have Ebola; avoiding contact with their bodily fluids, secretions, or objects that have been contaminated by them
  • Wash your hands frequently or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Do not touch and/or eat sick or dead wildlife (particularly bats and “bushmeat” from chimpanzees, gorillas, and monkeys)

For family members, health workers, and others coming into contact with Ebola patients:

  • People infected with Ebola need to be isolated
  • Universal barrier precautions need to be used when coming into contact with someone who is suspected to have
  • Make sure all equipment is properly disposed of
  • Ebola patients should not have sexual intercourse for 7 weeks
  • Be sure to bury those who have died from Ebola while wearing protection, and do not let mourners touch the body of the deceased patient

It is important to note that these precautions are highly recommended for those who are in or traveling to areas that are of high-risk of Ebola. The current outbreak is in West Africa and does not pose a threat to many countries far outside the borders of the area, such as the United States.

If you are planning on traveling to West Africa, be sure to stay up-to-date with health alerts on what is happening in the area. Scheduling a travel health consultation with a travel health specialist is also a good way to prepare yourself by receiving vaccinations for any other disease that may pose a risk in the area.

CDC: Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever
WHO: Disease Outbreak News
International SOS: Ebola in West Africa

Are You a “Silent Traveler?”

travelers using smart phone


You walk out of your hotel room and go down to the lobby, unsure of what you want to eat. Do you stop at the concierge desk for a recommendation? How old fashioned! You ask Siri for her recommendation, and continue on your way. Whether it’s Siri on an iPhone, Cortana on your Windows Phone, or the nameless entity that inhabits your Android, travelers are increasingly taking recommendations from devices instead of living, breathing human beings.

Indeed, as Skift recently reported, more and more people are turning away from the physical concierge to their phones in order to find the best restaurants and activities when they are on vacation. And, they wouldn’t want it any other way!

Yelp!, and other sites have made reading reviews before buying something as common place as the ads in the Sunday paper used to be. You always want to know what is best and comes with the highest recommendation, and, when in a foreign country, those tips can make the difference between a great trip and a just okay one.

If a concierge suggests a somewhat adventurous restaurant (monkey brains, anyone?), you might be a little afraid to go. “Sounds great, but that guy LIVES HERE, so he’s used to the food,” you may think to yourself. It’s a common worry that websites and social media can assuage. You’re much more likely to go somewhere a friend or trusted reviewer suggests than the guy the hotel pays to tell you what’s good.

This applies to check-in as well. A Skift report shows that while 81% of people believe that in-person check-in is important, 59% of those individuals claim that they would use self-service check-in if it were faster. The digital age is upon us, and it likely means fewer (real) faces once you get into the lobby.

We’d like to hear from you; are you a silent traveler? Or, do you prefer to interact with the service staff? Feel free to leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

New Polio Strain Is As Scary as It Looks

Republic of Congo Map
New polio strain first detected in 2010 outbreak in Pointe Noire, Republic of the Congo


A recent report out of Germany shows that a new polio strain that killed 209 people in the Congo in 2010 might be able to overcome current polio vaccinations.

In a study conducted at the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, researchers found that this new strain changes its form “at a decisive point,” making it resistant to some of the common polio vaccines.

Researchers isolated the virus from several fatal cases and then tested it on the blood samples of 34 medical students at the University of Bonn. Between 15% and 29% of the test samples were entirely unprotected from the mutant strain, despite being vaccinated against polio previously.

It is estimated that anywhere from 20% to 30% of the students sampled could have been infected by the new strain of the virus. However, it is possible that the vaccine would still have helped their immune systems combat the disease.

This finding comes four years after the initial outbreak of the new polio strain in Pointe Noire, Republic of the Congo, and confirms what initial research stated. Nearly half the victims of the outbreak were immunized at birth.

While no instance of this new strain has been found in the United States (or anywhere in the developed world), it is something to be aware of that could affect future research.

For more information on the polio vaccination and how you can protect yourself and your family, please contact a Passport Health travel medicine specialist.

Doing Good Globally: GAVI Alliance

Happy Healthy Group


Immunization has long been recognized as one of the most efficient, successful, and cost-effective health investments in human history. Studies prove that immunized children have higher cognitive abilities, are more likely to attend school, and are more likely to go on to be productive, healthy adults than their un-immunized counterparts. Unfortunately, even with this compelling evidence, 23 million children, mainly in the developing world, are still not vaccinated against life-threatening, common, preventable diseases. Due to the lack of access to some of the most basic vaccines in these poor and remote communities, precious lives are unnecessarily taken. Every child born, no matter the location of his or her birth, has the right to have the opportunity to live a healthy life, and GAVI Alliance avers that vaccines are the best way to assure this basic human right to life.

In the year 2000, global immunization rates were stagnating, and nearly 30 million children were born every year in developing countries without full access to routine immunizations. In order increase access to life-saving and health preserving vaccines, a unique public-private partnership was created with the help of numerous skilled immunization specialists; the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) was born. The Alliance’s mission was (and continues to be) to save children’s lives and protect global health by increasing access to immunization in the world’s poorest countries. GAVI has brought together low-income countries, donor governments, the WHO, UNICEF, the World Bank, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and other private philanthropists and influential individuals into one decision-making body. Working together, these Alliance members have been able to achieve goals no single organization could realize on its own and have made significant strides in closing the gap between children for whom immunization is a given and the millions of children worldwide with no access to basic vaccines. Each partner has brought something different and critically important to the effort to immunize children in the poorest countries, and, together, they have been able to make a huge difference in the world today.

Since GAVI was founded, the partnership has significantly increased immunization coverage and improved the health systems in over 70 countries. By focusing on funding immunization programs in low-income countries and supporting the strengthening of national health systems, GAVI has been able to ensure vaccines for meningitis, maternal neonatal tetanus, yellow fever, measles and other diseases reach individuals in need. The way GAVI works is quite unique, and the Alliance focuses on building on country commitment. Countries that are eligible for GAVI support take the lead by determining what their immunization needs are, applying for funding, and overseeing the implementation of their vaccination programs. GAVI requires that recipient countries contribute towards the cost of the vaccines with GAVI’s co-financing policy. By doing this, ownership of the program is strengthened and long-term sustainability of immunization programs is created. Involvement of recipient country governments and organizations in the vaccine programs demonstrates a strong commitment to improving the health of their populations.

Currently, GAVI is finishing up a second five-year strategy to support its mission and assist developing countries to immunize an additional quarter of a billion children by 2015, potentially saving four million more lives. This strategy, which began in 2011, has four main goals, all of which support GAVI’s overall mission: accelerate the uptake and use of underused and new vaccines, contribute to strengthening the capacity of integrated health systems to deliver immunization, increase the predictability of global financing while improving the sustainability of national financing for immunization, and to shape vaccine markets. This strategy also includes a series of programmatic targets and a range of indicators to monitor the progress towards fulfilling GAVI’s mission.

Since GAVI was founded, over 440 million children had been vaccinated due to the Alliance’s work, saving over 6 million lives. With the help of direct contributions, public-private partnerships, and caring individual donations, GAVI is able to continue with its commitment to save and protect millions more lives around the world. As new opportunities arise to prevent additional diseases, GAVI plans to continue making additional vaccines available and hopes to prevent more than 11 million child deaths by 2030.

To make a donation to the GAVI campaign, please visit this webpage, and click here to learn more about the Alliance in general.

How Do I Make My Workplace Flu Shot Program a Success?

Healthy Employees
Keep your employees healthy this flu season and schedule an onsite flu vaccination clinic.


People in good health should receive a flu vaccination each year so that they are protected against illness during the flu season, which typically starts in October and ends in the spring. No matter what the size of your company, now is the time to start thinking about holding a workplace flu shot program in order to guarantee the health of your employees later on in the year. However, organizing an on-site flu clinic might seem a bit daunting and you may have concerns about how to maximize the number of vaccinations while not affecting the operation of your business. Thankfully, the process is much easier than you might expect! Here are some tips on how to make your flu shot program a success.

“Advertise” the Event in Advance

You should start making your employees aware of the upcoming event at least three weeks before the vaccination program is set to take place. This will give them ample time to learn about the benefits of flu vaccination, so they can decide for themselves as to whether or not they want to get vaccinated. If you have a company newsletter, you should strongly consider writing a small article about the upcoming vaccination event. Closer to the actual date or dates of the event, you should send out a mass email, reminding employees to sign up if they are interested. Informational posters placed around the office may also help.

Ensure an Ample Supply of the Vaccine

You should make sure that you have enough vaccines for everyone who wants to get one. The best way to do this is to have everyone sign up in advance. Passport Health makes this easy with our unique online signup portals. This way, you can purchase enough flu vaccines and be assured that no one will miss out. If you cannot guarantee an adequate supply, encourage your staff to contact their health specialist and ask for a vaccination. They can also contact pharmacies and clinics in the area in order to schedule a vaccination.

Be Flexible

You probably don’t want to have everyone rushing to the workplace vaccination site at once. As soon as your employees have started to express an interest in receiving an influenza vaccine, ask them to schedule an appointment with you or any other organizers. This way, you can ensure that everyone gets their turn and no one is held up or pulled away from important work duties.

Set a Vaccination Goal

The best part about setting a goal is that you will provide an incentive for your employees. People enjoy encouragement and praise, and if you reach your target, you can send out a congratulatory letter to your employees. You may even want to bring in small treats to the office if you meet the goal. In addition, you can try and exceed this year’s goal with next year’s influenza vaccination clinic if you choose to hold one.

Focus on the Positive

The ultimate goal for any workplace flu shot program is for employees to stay healthy during the height of the flu season. Every completed vaccination is a success. Planning and executing a workplace vaccination program can seem complicated, but the end results are worth it. Contact Passport Health today for more information about setting up an on-site vaccination clinic for your company or business.

Informational Pamphlet from the New York City Department of Health and Hygiene
CDC Facts about the Seasonal Flu Vaccine
CDC Page on Key Flu Facts
Passport Health’s Flu Shot ROI Calculator

How Much Does the Flu Cost My Company? Find out!

Nausea. Chills. Fever. Aches and pains all over. We all know the flu is awful. However, did you know the flu is awfully expensive too? Sick employees cannot come to work, or, if they attempt to work from home, illness and general feelings of misery significantly cut into productivity. Additionally, the costs from flu related medical visits pile up quickly.

That’s right – the flu costs companies a lot of money each year.

How much does your company stand to lose from the flu? Fill in the number of employees in your company and their average annual salary in the calculator below to find out the financial risk the flu poses to you.

Luckily, this is one risk that is easily mitigated. Schedule an onsite flu vaccination clinic to keep your employees, and your bottom line, healthy and flu free!

How Much Does the Flu Cost My Company?

FIND OUT! Fill in the first two fields, and then press the TAB key.

Total employees:
Average employee salary :
Don’t know your average salary? Median U.S. income is $51,371
Each lost lost workday, per employee, costs you: $0
Each sick employee will lose 5 workdays: 5
Statistically, this many of your employees will get the flu*: 0
Flu-related absenteeism will cost your company: $0
Flu-related medical visits will cost your company**: $0
At a minimum, the flu will cost your company: $0

*Assume 15% of employees get the flu.
**The average cost of a doctor’s appointment is $154.55, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.

Flu-Mist More Effective in Children

Happy Healthy Children


Flu Vaccines: Mist vs. Injection for Children

Healthcare officials have long recommended the flu vaccines for children. However, in a rare move, federal health experts recently indicated a preference for the nasal spray influenza vaccine over the traditional injected version. The recommendation came as a result of studies, which indicated the inhaled version may have greater efficacy. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), a group of healthcare professionals who advise the CDC, made its recommendation after comparing the two formulas.

What is the Flu?

A contagious virus that is caused by the influenza virus, the flu is spread from one infected person to the nose or throat of another. According to the CDC, everyone over 6 months of age should receive a yearly influenza vaccination. The flu may pose serious health hazards as it may lead to pneumonia as well as high fevers and seizures in children.

Inhaled Vaccination

Flumist is an influenza vaccination that takes the form of a mist that is inhaled into the nostrils. The formula is made from a weakened virus. The nasal spray is approved for children 2 and older and adults under the age of 50. People who are allergic to eggs or previous versions of the flu vaccine should avoid Flumist. The inhaled vaccine is also not recommended for anyone who has pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, and renal, neuromuscular, neurological, hematologic or hepatic disorders. Flumist is also not for individuals who suffer from immunosuppression.


Although both weakened, active virus vaccines and inactive virus vaccines (IIV) have been deemed safe for children, researchers believe LAIV may have additional benefits. In 2011, researchers concluded that LAIV had an 83-percent rate of efficacy in children between the ages of 6 months and 7 years. However, results from the trials did not support efficacy in people over the age of 7. Despite the evidence of a higher level of efficacy, healthcare professionals remind physicians and healthcare providers not to delay vaccination or forego administering IIV vaccines if the nasal LAIV is not available. Furthermore, LAIV vaccines should not be administered to children who have shown signs of asthma or wheezing within the previous 12 months. Higher cost may also be a concern for patients and healthcare providers as the nasal mist is priced slightly higher.

Overall, ACIP recommends that health professionals maintain both LAIV and IIV vaccines on hand and administer both. The advisory group has also urged the importance of informing parents that their child will not be at a disadvantage if he or she receives the IIV vaccine instead.

Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices – Immunizations for Children
Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine
Key Facts About Seasonal Flu Vaccine

Ebola Vaccine is Ready for Clinical Trial

Vaccine Research - Ebola Virus


GlaxoSmithKline recently announced that it will begin testing its Ebola vaccination as early as mid-September in human volunteers.

With the help of the National Institutes of Health’s Vaccine Research Center, GSK will start recruiting patients in the Gambia, Mali and the United Kingdom to take part in the trials. If the vaccine is proven safe and those inoculated show immunity to the disease, the company would like to speed up delivery of the medicine to West Africa where Ebola has been most prevalent.

“A vaccine will be enormously important in the prevention effort for this deadly disease,” observed Melanie Kohr, RN, Passport Health’s Vice President of Clinic Operations. “Although public health measures like correct use of personal protective equipment and patient isolation have an important role to play in preventing disease spread, vaccination adds yet another tool to the disease prevention kit.”

Since the Ebola outbreak began in March of this year, more than 1,550 people have died and 3,069 been infected by the virus. While these are small numbers in comparison to the toll that diseases like malaria or influenza take, the fear of Ebola spreading further and current estimates that point to 20,000 more potential deaths before the outbreak ends has lead groups like GlaxoSmithKline to invest more heavily in Ebola vaccination efforts.

Ebola, also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF), is a disease that so far has been contained to Africa mainly in the sub-Saharan region. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and rash along with internal bleeding in some cases. The virus is spread through contact with blood or bodily fluids of an infected being (either human or animal). There are no documented cases of an outbreak starting anywhere outside of the sub-Saharan Africa region.

To find more about immunizations against diseases like Ebola, malaria, yellow fever or even the common cold, contact a Passport Health travel health specialist by visiting our website at, or by calling 1-877-499-7277.