Ahead of the Games

It’s less than two months now to the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. Construction workers are putting the final touches to mountainous Gangwon province’s 35,000-seat outdoor stadium, which will host the opening and closing ceremonies. With tension running high between North Korea’s leadership and the rest of the world, and the International Olympic Committee banning Russia due to its doping violations, it’s no surprise that tickets are still available.

Last month, three months before the Games begin on February 9, organizers had sold roughly 30% of the 1 million event tickets on offer. Located a mere 90 kilometers from the Korean demilitarized zone that separates North from South, maybe travelers are feeling slightly less than safe. Of course, if you are considering a trip to possibly one of the best organized Olympics, you’d want to make sure you are prepared, starting with getting your vaccines in order.

According to the US’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), travelers heading to the Korean peninsula should be prepared:

Before your trip:

  • Schedule an appointment with a travel medicine clinic or your health-care provider at least 4–6 weeks before you depart. Talk to the doctor or nurse about vaccines and medicines recommended for your destination.
  • Recommended vaccines to consider include hepatitis A, typhoid, hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis, and rabies.
    • CDC also recommends all travelers be up to date on routine vaccines, including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis, varicella (chickenpox), polio, and influenza.
    • Medicine for diarrhea may also be recommended.

If you feel sick during your trip:

  • Talk to a doctor or nurse if you feel seriously ill, especially if you have a fever.
  • Western-style medical facilities are available in most large cities in South Korea. However, not all doctors and staff are proficient in English. Check the US Embassy website for a list of English-speaking physicians.
  • Avoid contact with other people while you are sick, such as kissing, hugging, or sharing utensils or cups.
  • Wash your hands often. If soap and water aren’t available, use hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol) to clean hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hand) when coughing or sneezing.

After your trip:

  • If you are not feeling well after your trip, you may need to see a doctor. Be sure to tell your doctor about your travel, including where you went and what you did on your trip.
  • Tell your doctor if you were bitten or scratched by an animal or were around any sick people while traveling. This will help your doctor understand your symptoms to exclude certain infections and avoid unnecessary testing.

While there are many more safety tips which are valid for the Olympics, or many other foreign destinations this coming winter, play it safe and speak with your family doctor or ‘travel clinic’ when heading off to exotic locations. They’ll know what vaccinations you’ll need and when you may need a booster for an older vaccination. This way, you’ll only be coming home with great memories and souvenirs

Source (CDC 2018 Winter Olympics (PyeongChang 2018)