Traveling internationally?  Don’t bring any exotic diseases home as unwanted souvenirs — get the right vaccines before you leave!

What Travel Vaccines Do You Need?

Which vaccines will you need to protect yourself? The answer depends on a number of different factors, including:

  • Which vaccines you’ve already had.
  • The countries you’ll be traveling to.
  • When you plan to travel.
  • The activities you plan to engage in.

Additionally, some countries may require a yellow fever vaccine as one of their entry requirements.

Travel Medicine Risk Factors

Even within the same country, some itineraries are riskier than others.  Here are some risk factors to consider:

  • Where you’ll be staying (are you staying in a five-star hotel, a hostel, or couchsurfing in someone’s home?)
  • How “adventurous” of an eater you are (will you try street food?)
  • What is the purpose of your trip? For example, tourists will have a very different risk profile than a missionary or someone volunteering for disaster relief.
  • What is your health status? If you’re already battling a chronic illness or a suppressed immune system, this can affect your risk of illness and the precautions you should take.

Where and When to Get Vaccinated

As soon as you have your travel plans in place, start figuring out what, if any, vaccines you’ll require.  Vaccines don’t necessarily offer instant immunity; for some, it may take a few weeks or even multiple doses for your immune system to gear up to combat the disease.

Since travel medicine is such a specialized field and there are so many individual risk factors involved, the CDC recommends that you seek out a doctor or clinic that specializes in travel medicine, especially if you have a complicated itinerary or a pre-existing condition.

Your local health department may offer pre-travel consultations and vaccinations. Another option that may be more convenient is to use a private travel health clinic like Passport Health.

Passport Health is the largest provider of travel health services in the US, with a nationwide network of over 200 clinics.  They offer pre-trip counseling and vaccines, including hard-to-find vaccines that your local health department may not keep in stock.

Protect yourself and your family – consult a travel expert ahead of time!

Photo credit: Some rights reserved by USACE Europe District