No specific vaccinations are required for travel to Argentina. However, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend vaccinations against hepatitis A and B and typhoid for all travelers. Yellow fever is also advisable if you're traveling to the Iguazú area. Children traveling to Argentina should have current inoculations against measles, mumps, rubella, and polio.
People in Buenos Aires drink tap water and eat uncooked fruits and vegetables. However, if you're prone to tummy trouble, stick to bottled water, which costs about 3.50 pesos for 2 liters.
You wouldn't know it from locals' intense love of sunbathing, but the sun is a significant health hazard in Argentina. Stay out of the sun at midday and, regardless of whether you normally burn, wear plenty of good-quality sunblock. A limited selection is available in most supermarkets and pharmacies, but if you use high SPF factors or have sensitive skin, bring your favorite brands with you. A hat and decent sunglasses are also essential.
Argentina has free national health care that also provides foreigners with free outpatient care. Although medical practitioners working at Buenos Aires' hospitales públicos (public hospitals) are usually first-rate, the institutions themselves are often underfunded: bed space and basic supplies are at a minimum, and except in emergencies, consider leaving these resources for those who really need them.
Private consultations and treatment at Buenos Aires' best private hospitals are reasonably priced compared to those in North America (so much so that medical tourism is booming). All the same, it's a good idea to have some kind of medical insurance. Doctors at the Hospital Británico and Hospital Alemán generally speak English; indeed, so do staff at many private hospitals.
Hospital Británico (Perdriel 74, Barracas, Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, C1280AEB. 11/4309–6633. www.hospitalbritanico.org.ar. H to Caseros (10 blocks from station).)
Hospital Alemán (Av. Pueyrredón 1640, Recoleta, Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires, C1118AAT. 11/4827–7000. www.hospitalaleman.org.ar. D to Pueyrredón.)
You might want to consider buying trip insurance with medical-only coverage. Neither Medicare nor some private insurers cover medical expenses anywhere outside of the United States. Medical-only policies typically reimburse you for medical care (excluding that related to pre-existing conditions) and hospitalization abroad, and provide for evacuation. You still have to pay the bills and await reimbursement from the insurer, though.
International Medical Group (800/628–4664. www.imglobal.com.)
International SOS (800/523–8662. www.internationalsos.com.)
Wallach & Company (800/237–6615 or 540/687–3166. www.wallach.com.)
Membership in a medical-evacuation assistance company gets you doctor referrals, emergency evacuation or repatriation, 24-hour hotlines for medical consultation, and other assistance. International SOS Assistance Emergency and AirMed International provide evacuation services and medical referrals. MedjetAssist offers medical evacuation.
Medical Assistance Companies
AirMed International (800/356–2161. www.airmed.com.)
MedjetAssist (800/527–7478. www.medjetassist.com.)
Farmacias (pharmacies) carry painkillers, first-aid supplies, contraceptives, diarrhea treatments, and a range of other over-the-counter treatments, including drugs that would require a prescription in the United States (antibiotics, for example).
Note that acetominophen—or Tylenol—is known as "paracetamol" in Spanish. If you think you'll need to have prescriptions filled while you're in Argentina, be sure to have your doctor write down the generic name of the drug, not just the brand name.
Farmacity is a supermarket-style drugstore chain with stores all over town; many of its branches are open 24 hours and have a delivery service.
Farmacity (11/4322–7777. www.farmacity.com.ar.)