Shots for International Travel

Do I need shots before I travel?

Before you travel, make sure you are up to date on all routine shots. These include tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, and mumps. It is also good to have a flu shot if you are traveling to a part of the world where it is flu season. You may also need a pneumococcal shot to protect against pneumococcal infection.

When you travel to foreign countries, you may be exposed to other infections. Many of these illnesses can be prevented with vaccines or medicines. At least 2 months before you travel, tell your healthcare provider where you plan to travel. Some vaccines need to be started a month before you leave. Your provider will let you know what shots or medicines you need. This decision will be based on:

  • The places you plan to visit
  • Your age, medical history, and health
  • Your exposure risk, for example, whether you will be in areas where there are mosquitoes

Also find out which countries require proof of vaccination before they will let you visit.

What shots or medicines might I need before I travel?

More than a dozen vaccines are available to prevent diseases you might be exposed to during travel to other parts of the world. For example, you might need vaccines against:

  • Hepatitis A and B (If you haven’t already had these shots, you may need to start getting them at least 6 months before you travel.)
  • Chickenpox
  • Pneumonia
  • Typhoid fever
  • Yellow fever
  • Meningitis
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Rabies

This is just a partial list. It depends on where you are traveling and what outbreaks there are when you travel.

If you are going to a part of the world where malaria is common, such as Africa, Asia, or South America, you may need to take medicine to prevent malaria. Malaria is a serious, sometimes fatal, disease spread by mosquito bites. Your healthcare provider may prescribe a medicine that you will start taking up to 2 weeks before you leave. You will keep taking the medicine while you travel in the risk area and up to 4 weeks after you leave the area.

How can I get up-to-date information?

Check with your healthcare provider or your local health department for information. You can get detailed, up-to-date travel advice for specific countries and diseases from:

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-08-01
Last reviewed: 2014-07-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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