Traveling by plane, train, or automobile to new places can expose you to all sorts of bugs you wouldn’t encounter at home! Many times, these illnesses are common cold or stomach viruses. However, if you are traveling within the United States, it is a great time to check that you are up-to-date on all routine vaccines. Your pharmacist or other healthcare practitioner can always help you figure out whether you need any routine vaccines, no matter the season!
When you are traveling internationally, there are often vaccines recommended or required that are considered “travel vaccines” or non-routine vaccines. It’s important that you think about the vaccines you may need to travel internationally as soon as you know you are traveling. Many vaccines work best when administered in series, over a few months, so waiting until the last minute to check which vaccines you should receive may leave you in a pinch!
How do I know which vaccines to receive for international travel?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, is the authority on which vaccines to receive when leaving the United States. Anyone traveling should refer to their list of over 200 destinations to see which vaccines they need. Make sure you check the requirements for countries in which you have airport layovers, since you may have to comply with those countries’ requirements as well as your destination country. Often, your pharmacist or other healthcare practitioner can provide the vaccines you need!
What are the most common vaccines needed to travel?
Always make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines, including your annual flu vaccine, measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, and polio vaccine.
Hepatitis A vaccine series is recommended for travel to common travel destinations, including the Caribbean, Mexico, and some European countries.
Typhoid vaccine is recommended for travel to the Caribbean, Mexico, and South American countries.
Other vaccines that may be needed to travel to international destinations include hepatitis B, rabies, Yellow Fever, and Japanese Encephalitis vaccines.
What else do I need to know about vaccines and medicines for traveling internationally?
If you are traveling somewhere that Yellow Fever vaccines are required, you need official documentation that you have received the vaccine; therefore, Yellow Fever vaccines can only be administered by registered sites that provide this documentation.
There may be prescription medications in addition to vaccines you will need for malaria prevention or traveler’s diarrhea treatment. The CDC travel resources identify those needs, as well.
For any summer travel, I recommend packing your own OTC travel kit, for more common aches, pains, and ailments!
Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.