Work with your doctor to evaluate your health, or the health of those traveling with you, by using the guide below. In general, you should see your doctor or healthcare provider a month before traveling abroad. The CDC does not recommend travel by plane if you:
Check your destination for concerns to be aware of before you leave. Depending on where you’re going and what you’ll be doing, you may need vaccinations, medicines, and destination-specific advice before your trip.
See your doctor at least a month before you go. CDC websites provide recommendations, but CDC cannot give you specific medical advice. Recommendations for vaccines and medicines depend on many factors that are specific to each person. You should let your doctor know that you are planning a trip at least 4 weeks before departure to be sure you can get the vaccines and medications you need.
Be sure to give your doctor the following information about your trip so they can assess your risks:
Follow the advice of your doctor
Before traveling it is important to make sure that you are up to date with all of your routine vaccinations, including measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) and a seasonal flu vaccine. Consider any recommended travel vaccines for your destination.
What are “routine vaccines”?
Routine vaccines are those recommended for everyone in the United States, depending on age and vaccine history. Most people think of these as childhood vaccines that you get before starting school, but CDC also recommends routine vaccines for adults (for example, flu vaccine and tetanus booster shots).
Why are routine vaccines important for travelers?
Because of good vaccine coverage of children in the United States, some of the diseases prevented by routine vaccines rarely occur here. However, these diseases can be much more common in other countries, even in areas where you wouldn’t normally worry about travel-related illnesses. For example, although measles is rare in the United States, it is more common in other countries. Measles outbreaks happen frequently in many popular tourist destinations in Europe and beyond—don't go unprotected!
Being up-to-date on your routine vaccines will give you the best protection against these illnesses.
What routine vaccines do I need?
What vaccines you need depends on your age, health, and what vaccines you have already had. For most adults who received all their recommended vaccines as children, only a yearly flu vaccine and a tetanus booster every 10 years are needed. However, you should talk to your doctor about what’s best for you. If you did not receive all your vaccines as a child—or if you can’t remember—your doctor may recommend getting them again, just to be safe. For older adults, vaccination against pneumococcal disease or shingles might be advised.
Vaccines protect travelers from getting diseases abroad.
Visiting another country can put you at risk for diseases that may not normally be found in the United States. Getting vaccinated against certain diseases is one of the most effective things you can do to protect your health abroad. Plan to get the travel vaccines you need at least a month before your trip. Most vaccines need to be given ahead of time to give you full protection against a disease. If you need a yellow fever vaccine, plan to travel some distance away from where you live to get it. Only a limited number of clinics have the vaccine.
What vaccines do I need before I travel?
You may need other vaccines before you travel depending on your destination, your medical history, your planned activities, and other health concerns. Discuss your itinerary with your health care provider to make sure you get any destination-specific vaccines and medicines, such as yellow fever vaccine or medicine to prevent malaria.
How long does immunity from travel vaccines last (when do I need to get a booster dose)?
How long travel vaccines last depends on the vaccine. If you're traveling outside the United States, you should see a health care provider who is familiar with travel medicine to talk about your upcoming trip. He or she will be able to provide you with advice for any vaccines and vaccine boosters based upon where you are going and when you got your previous vaccinations. Be sure to bring your vaccine records in Vaxigo to your appointment!
What is yellow fever?
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a virus that is spread through mosquito bites. Symptoms take 3–6 days to develop and include fever, chills, headache, backache, and muscle aches. About 15% of people who get yellow fever develop serious illness that can lead to bleeding, shock, organ failure, and sometimes death.
Who is at risk?
Travelers to certain parts of South America and Africa are at risk for yellow fever. See the box below for specific information about the country where you are traveling.
What is typhoid fever?
Typhoid fever and paratyphoid fever are similar diseases caused by bacteria. Salmonella Typhi bacteria cause typhoid fever. Salmonella Paratyphi bacteria cause paratyphoid fever.
People infected with these bacteria can spread them to others. This typically happens when an infected person uses the bathroom and does not wash their hands. The bacteria can stay on their hands and contaminate everything that the person touches, including any food and drinks.
In countries with poor sanitation, the water used to rinse and prepare food and beverages can also be contaminated with these bacteria. Travelers who eat foods or drink beverages contaminated with these bacteria can then get sick.
Typhoid fever and paratyphoid fever cause similar symptoms. People with these diseases usually have a fever that can be as high as 103–104°F (39–40°C). They also may have weakness, stomach pain, headache, diarrhea or constipation, cough, and loss of appetite. Some people have a rash of flat, rose-colored spots. Internal bleeding and death can occur but are rare.
Who is at risk?
Typhoid and paratyphoid fever are most common in parts of the world with poor sanitation. This includes parts of Asia (especially India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh), Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the Middle East.
People visiting friends or relatives are more likely than other travelers to get typhoid fever because they may stay in the country longer, may be less cautious about the food they eat or the beverages they drink because they eat local food prepared in people’s homes, and may not think to get vaccinated before traveling.
In the United States, about 350 people are diagnosed with typhoid fever and 90 people are diagnosed with paratyphoid fever each year. Most of these people travelled internationally..
What is cholera?
Cholera is a disease caused by bacteria called Vibrio cholerae. Cholera bacteria spread from one person to another in places where sanitation is poor and there is limited access to safe drinking water.
You can get sick with cholera by drinking water or eating food contaminated with cholera bacteria. Cholera symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting. People with severe cholera have large amounts of watery diarrhea. Often described as “rice-water stool,” cholera diarrhea can have a pale, milky appearance. Cholera can lead to death if a person becomes dehydrated from loss of fluids and electrolytes.
Who is at risk?
Most international travelers do not get cholera because they do not visit areas with active cholera transmission and usually have good access to safe food and water.
Cholera is found in countries around the world but is extremely rare in the United States and other industrialized nations.
The following is a list of countries that have areas of active cholera transmission
Africa: Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia
Asia: Bangladesh, India, Yemen
What is rabies?
Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that is spread in the saliva of infected animals. All mammals can get rabies. People usually get rabies from licks, bites, or scratches from infected dogs and other animals such as bats, foxes, raccoons, and mongooses.
Rabies affects the central nervous system, ultimately causing brain disease and death. Once symptoms of rabies appear, the disease is nearly always fatal, so prevention is especially important.
Who is at risk?
Rabies is found around the world, except Antarctica. Travelers who may come into contact with wild or domestic animals are at risk for rabies. This includes travelers spending a lot of time outdoors (such as campers and cavers), travelers with occupational risks (such as veterinarians and wildlife professionals), and long-term travelers and expatriates. Children are also at higher risk because they often play with animals, might not report bites, and are more likely to be bitten on the head and neck.
In many countries the risk of rabies is similar to the United States, including most of Europe, Japan, Canada, and Australia. However, in many other parts of the world, rabies in dogs is still a problem, and access to preventive treatment may be hard. These areas include much of Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. If traveling to a country where there is an increased risk of rabies, especially in dogs, rabies vaccination may be recommended before your trip.
What is Japanese Encephalitis?
Japanese encephalitis (JE) is a disease spread through mosquito bites. Symptoms usually take 5-15 days to develop and include fever, headache, vomiting, confusion, and difficulty moving. Symptoms that develop later include swelling around the brain and coma. JE is a serious disease that may cause death.
Who is at risk?
Travelers who go to Asia are at risk for getting Japanese encephalitis (See map). For most travelers the risk is extremely low but depends on where you are going, the time of year, your planned activities, and the length of the trip. You are at higher risk if you are traveling to rural areas, will be outside frequently, or will be traveling for a long period of time. In mild climates in northern Asia the risk for JE is greater in the summer and fall. In tropical and subtropical areas, there is a risk of transmission year-round.
Get a quick online visit with a doctor, pharmacist, or other healthcare provider who is trained in travel vaccinations and learn which vaccines you need before your trip.Get An Online Travel Vaccine Consult