Plan for Travel

Measles cases in the U.S. originate from international travel. Make sure you and your loved ones are protected against measles before international travel.

It is critical for all international travelers to be protected against measles, regardless of their destination.

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Planning a trip outside the U.S.?

Find out if you need measles vaccine

Which travelers are at risk?

You are at risk of measles infection if you have not been fully vaccinated or have not had measles in the past and you travel internationally to areas where measles is spreading. The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from measles is by getting vaccinated.

Before international travel: Make sure you’re protected against measles

The best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from measles is by getting vaccinated. You should plan to be fully vaccinated at least 2 weeks before you depart. If your trip is less than 2 weeks away and you’re not protected against measles, you should still get a dose of MMR vaccine. The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine protects against all 3 diseases. Two doses of MMR vaccine provide 97% protection against measles; one dose provides 93% protection.

Call your health care provider, your local health department, or locate a pharmacy or clinic near youexternal icon to schedule an appointment for a MMR vaccine. CDC does not recommend measles vaccine for infants younger than 6 months of age.

Infants under 12 months old
  • Get an early dose at 6-11 months
  • Follow the recommended schedule and get another dose at 12-15 months and a final dose at 4-6 years
Children over 12 months old
  • Get first dose immediately
  • Get second dose 28 days after first dose
Teens and adults with no evidence of immunity*
  • Get first dose immediately
  • Get second dose 28 days after first dose

* Acceptable presumptive evidence of immunity against measles includes at least one of the following: written documentation of adequate vaccination, laboratory evidence of immunity, laboratory confirmation of measles, or birth in the United States before 1957.

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If you and your children are not traveling internationally, follow CDC’s routinely recommended vaccine schedule.

Since measles is still common in many countries, unvaccinated travelers bring measles to the U.S., and it can spread. Protect yourself, your family, and your community with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, especially before traveling internationally.

What countries are having measles outbreaks?

Measles remains a common disease in many parts of the world, including Europe, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Each year, an estimated 142,000 people die from measles. Many countries have experienced measles outbreaks in recent years; this includes many popular travel destinations like Israel, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Ukraine, the Philippines, and more.

Before your next trip, check your destination and CDC’s global travel notices.

How do measles outbreaks start in the US?

In the United States, measles cases originate from international travel. The disease is brought into the United States by unvaccinated people who get infected in other countries. Typically 2 out of 3 of these unvaccinated travelers are Americans. They can spread measles to other people who are not protected against measles, which sometimes leads to outbreaks.

Since measles is still common in many countries, unvaccinated travelers bring measles to the U.S., and it can spread. Protect yourself, your family, and your community with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, especially before traveling internationally.

Do not travel if you are sick. Call your healthcare provider immediately if you think you or your child have been exposed to measles.

After international travel: watch for measles

Measles is highly contagious and can spread to others through coughing and sneezing. Measles is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected. An infected person can spread measles to others 4 days before the rash even develops.

Watch your health for 3 weeks after you return. Measles symptoms typically include:

  • high fever (may spike to more than 104° F)
  • cough
  • runny nose (coryza)
  • red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis)
  • rash (3-5 days after symptoms begin)

If you or your child gets sick with a rash and fever, call your healthcare provider. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider that you traveled abroad, and whether you have received MMR vaccine.

What can healthcare providers do?

Before Travel: Check that patients 6 months of age or older traveling internationally have presumptive evidence of immunity against measles before departure. A self-report of a vaccination or disease history is not adequate evidence of protection. Vaccinate any traveler who does not have written documentation of vaccination or other presumptive evidence of measles immunity.

After Travel: Consider measles in the differential diagnosis of patients presenting with fever and rash, especially those who have recently traveled internationally or who have close contacts who have recently traveled.

Page last reviewed: November 5, 2020