Travel Smart: Get Vaccinated
Make sure you are up to date on all recommended vaccinations before traveling abroad.
Some types of international travel, especially to developing countries and rural areas, may have higher health risks. These risks 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 the chances for getting and spreading disease.
Pregnant Women Should Not Travel to an Area with Risk of Zika
Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. A pregnant woman can pass Zika to her fetus during pregnancy or around the time of birth. Also, a person with Zika can pass it to his or her sex partners. There is no vaccine to prevent Zika virus. A pregnant woman, even one without symptoms, can pass Zika to her developing fetus.
Zika infection during pregnancy can cause serious birth defects. Until we know more, CDC recommends that pregnant women not travel to any area with risk of Zika. If you must travel to an area with risk of Zika, talk to your doctor or other health care provider first and strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and sexual transmission during and after your trip.
Plan Ahead to Vaccinate
Finding your vaccine records and getting all the vaccines you need may take some time. Talk with your health care professional 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 4-6 weeks 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. Make sure you are up to date on your all recommended vaccines, such as MMR vaccine, before you travel.
- Check if the country you are traveling to requires proof of yellow fever vaccine. Only a registered provider can offer this vaccine, and you must get it at least 10 days before travel. You will need a stamped vaccine certificate as well. Find a Yellow Fever Vaccination Clinic.
- 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 a number of diseases. Use 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 (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine.
- Page last reviewed: May 22, 2017
- Page last updated: May 22, 2017
- Content source:
- National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases
- Page maintained by: Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Digital Media Branch, Division of Public Affairs