When considering an international assignment, most people tend to consider the location, salary and package above all else. It is only when they have accepted the assignment and are beginning relocation procedures that concerns over such issues as health care come to be considered. Many times those considerations only amount to whether there is an insurance plan or not. It is, however, essential that you consider health care preparations carefully before you depart and during your look-see visit. This section will provide you with a framework that should put your mind at ease and prepare you for your journey.

Health Records

If you or your family members have pre-existing health issues, it is essential to inform your doctor early about your impending relocation and seek their advice. You may need to take copies of health records to forward to the physician in Shanghai. If possible, visit a doctor while on your look-see trip to ensure that you are fully prepared for the move. During the visit discuss the medications that you or your family members are taking to ensure that they can be acquired in Shanghai. Also make sure that you take ample amounts of the prescriptions that you or your family members require, so that you don’t need to rush to a doctor during your initial period after arrival.

If you see a specialist for annual checkups it is important to schedule a visit before you depart. Though there is excellent health care available in Shanghai, the relationship you have with your specialist cannot be easily duplicated.

Travel Insurance

Get some supplementary travel insurance. You may not think it necessary, but the logistics of getting your health insurance set up in Shanghai may not be completely known before departure. Travel insurance tends to be inexpensive and many companies will cover the cost as part of the relocation expenses. It is unlikely that you will need it, but the one time that you do it may save you a lot of money or even your life, if you need a medivac flight home due to an accident or unknown medical condition.

Get Your Vaccinations Early

Many people leave vaccinations too late, thinking that they only require a simple trip to the clinic. The truth is that some vaccinations must be taken up to three months before departure and others require multiple shots that are weeks apart. There is no harm in putting vaccinations at the top of your to-do list alongside consular procedures. Also, remember to take your vaccination card with you when you leave, as you may be asked by health professionals which vaccinations you have had and it is best not to guess.

An important factor to consider when getting your vaccinations is the places you will be traveling to for work or leisure during your stay. One of the huge benefits of an assignment in Shanghai (that is often overlooked by expats before they depart) is that you are within a few hours’ plane ride of some of the most spectacular vacation spots in the world. From the always popular Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Philippines and Singapore to more exotic places like Laos, Nepal, Taiwan and Indonesia, you will find yourself in the luxurious position of trying to decide where to go for the long weekend. Preparing for the likelihood of regional travel means that not limiting your vaccinations to only those required for Shanghai is an excellent idea. Consult your doctor or visit a website such as www.cdc.gov to learn more about what vaccinations are needed for Shanghai and other destinations you are interested in visiting while on assignment in Asia.

Typhoid Strongly recommended 10 days before travel
Hepatitis A Strongly recommended 2 weeks before travel
Diphtheria Strongly recommended 3 months before travel
Hepatitis B Strongly recommended 2 months before travel
Tetanus Ensure it is up to date N/A
Polio Ensure it is up to date N/A
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