What is travel vaccines?

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Why would you need travel vaccinations?

Talk with your doctor months before your trip to find out if vaccines are recommended. Certain things, such as where you are going, your age and health, and how long you plan to stay will affect your risk of disease and your need for vaccines. The need for travel vaccines also depends on your vaccine history, the time of year, and whether any outbreaks of disease have recently occurred.

To get information about travel vaccines:

  • Contact your local health department or doctor.
  • Visit the website of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at www.cdc.gov/travel.

Where you travel

In most developed countries the risk of exposure to serious diseases is generally no greater than it is in the United States. Developed countries include Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and western and northern European countries.

The risk of exposure to serious disease may be much higher in developing countries than it is in most developed countries. This is especially true for areas with poor sanitation (for example, poor water and food handling). Developing countries include those in most parts of Africa and Asia and many parts of South and Central America. For example:

  • If you plan to travel to South America or Africa, you may need the yellow fever vaccine.
  • Travelers to developing countries should take precautions to prevent hepatitis A infection. This may include getting a vaccine. More vaccines, such as typhoid vaccine, may be recommended.

Your age and health

People with certain medical conditions, such as immune system problems, may have different vaccine recommendations than healthy people. And young children who are traveling may need to receive their routine vaccines sooner than normally scheduled.

How you travel and types of activities

Certain activities or modes of travel increase your risk of exposure to disease. These include:

  • Exploring rural areas or those off the usual tourist route.
  • Taking backpacking trips.
  • Visiting people in another country.

What vaccines do you need for travel?

Check with the nearest travel health clinic, your regional health department, your doctor, or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/travel to see what kind of vaccines you should get.

You may need vaccines to protect against:

  • Infections, such as shots for polio, diphtheria, measles, whooping cough (pertussis), mumps, or rubella.
  • Tetanus.
  • Hepatitis A.
  • Hepatitis B.
  • Yellow fever.
  • The flu.
  • Complications of pneumonia (pneumococcal vaccine).
  • Typhoid fever.
  • Rabies.
  • Cholera.

You may need other immunizations. It depends on the area you are visiting, how long you will be there, and the purpose of your journey. For example, if you will be in rural Asia for a month or longer, you may need a vaccine for Japanese encephalitis. Or you may need to take medicine for malaria.

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