Travel Smart: Get Vaccinated

A family waiting for their international flight

Make sure you are up to date on all recommended vaccinations before traveling abroad.

International travel can be a fun and enriching experience, but it can also pose health risks. The type of risks you might face during travel depend on a number of things including:

  • Where you are traveling.
  • Your activities while traveling.
  • The state of your health.
  • Your vaccination history.

Many vaccine-preventable diseases that have become rare in the United States, such as measles and pertussis, are still common in other parts of the world. Certain activities, such as attending crowded events, can increase the spread of infectious disease. No matter where you plan to go, you should get recommended vaccines to lower your chances for getting and spreading disease.

Yellow Fever Vaccine Shortage

The only US-licensed yellow fever vaccine, YF-Vax®, is out of stock. An alternative vaccine, Stamaril®, is comparable in safety and efficacy and is available at a limited number of clinics in the United States. The nearest yellow fever vaccination clinic may be some distance away and appointments may be limited. Find a clinic near you.

Plan Ahead to Vaccinate

Talk with a health care professional about needed vaccines when you begin to plan international travel. If your primary health care professional does not stock travel vaccines, you may need to visit a travel clinic to get the vaccines you need.

  • See your health care professional at least a month before any international travel. You may need this much time to complete a vaccine series, and your body needs time to build up immunity. Find out vaccine recommendations and requirements for your travel destination.
  • Ask about routine vaccines when you talk to your health care professional about travel. In addition to getting any recommended travel vaccines, make sure you and your family are up to date on all routine vaccines, such as MMR  vaccine, before you travel.
  • Check if yellow fever vaccination is recommended or required for your destination and plan ahead. Only a registered provider can offer this vaccine, and you must get it at least 10 days before travel.

Image of an international certificate of vaccination, U.S. Passport, boarding pass, and foreign currency

Find the latest health updates for areas you plan to visit.

Learn More

  • Get up to date on all your vaccinations. Take our quiz to find out which vaccines you might need.
  • Learn about recommended travel vaccines and medicines you might need for your destination.
  • Find the latest health updates for areas you plan to visit.
  • Discover and learn about specific diseases that can affect you while traveling.

Other Tips to Travel Smart and Stay Healthy

Vaccination is the first step toward staying healthy while traveling. Here are other important ways to avoid illness:

  • Be careful what you eat and drink. Follow these Food and Water Safety  tips.
  • Bugs (including mosquitoes, ticks, and some flies) can spread serious diseases. Use EPA-registered insect repellent and learn other ways to Avoid Bug Bites .
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Don’t touch animals, especially monkeys, dogs, and birds. Follow other tips to Be Safe Around Animals.
Measles and International Travel

Each year, unvaccinated travelers get measles and bring it home. This has sometimes led to outbreaks. The majority of measles cases brought into the United States come from U.S. residents who were traveling abroad.

Vaccination is the best protection against measles. Before going to a foreign country, make sure you and your family are immune to measles. Ask your doctor if anyone in your family needs MMR vaccine. This may include an early dose of measles vaccine for infants 6-11 months of age.

Also check the CDC Travel Health Notices and search by “measles” to see country-specific precautions.

Learn more about how you can protect yourself and your family from measles when traveling abroad.

Page last reviewed: May 20, 2019