Vaccinations, Travel 

Updated: Jul 31, 2015
  • Author: Abimbola Farinde, PharmD, PhD; Chief Editor: Mary L Windle, PharmD  more...
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Vaccinations, Travel

In general, travel vaccinations may be classified as either required, recommended, or routine.

Routine vaccinations are routinely provided as a part of one’s normal health maintenance and are necessary for protection from diseases that remain common in many parts of the world, although they may be uncommon in the United States.

Recommended vaccinations depend on numerous factors, including travel destinations, planned activities, season, previous immunizations, urban/rural location, age, and current health status. In general, these vaccinations are recommended to protect travelers from illnesses present in other parts of the world and to prevent the importation of infectious diseases across international borders. Special considerations for aging, immune compromised, pregnant, immigrant, chronically ill, students, and disabled travelers are essential.

Required vaccinations include yellow fever vaccination required by International Health Regulations for travel to certain countries in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America. In addition, individuals traveling during the Hajj are also required by the government of Saudi Arabia to obtain the meningococcal vaccination.

Ideally, travel vaccinations should be sought 4-6 weeks before travelling because most vaccinations require a period of days or weeks to become effective. Reviewing current recommendations for the region of travel is recommended prior to the scheduled medical appointment. [1, 2] In addition, if uncertain regarding previous immunizations, various tests are available to identify appropriate titer levels and whether updated boosters are indicated. [3]

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Destinations for destination-specific vaccination requirements/recommendations.

For a more comprehensive discussion, see the Medscape article Travel Medicine and Vaccination.

Below is a list of vaccine-preventable travel-related diseases that are not covered by routine adult vaccinations:

The following are regional destinations and vaccinations that may be recommended/required (see www.cdc.gov/travel for current recommendations/requirements):

  • Africa, Central, East and West - Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, rabies, polio, yellow fever, meningitis
  • Africa: North, South - Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, rabies
  • Asia: East, Southeast - Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, rabies, Japanese encephalitis
  • Asia: South - Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, rabies, polio, Japanese encephalitis
  • Caribbean - Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, yellow fever (Trinidad and Tobago)
  • Central America and Mexico - Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, rabies, yellow fever
  • Europe: East - Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, rabies
  • Europe: West - Hepatitis A, hepatitis B
  • Middle East - Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, rabies, meningitis
  • Pacific - Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis
  • South America: Temperate - Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, yellow fever
  • South America: Tropical - Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, rabies, yellow fever (Peru)