Do You Need Vaccinations Before Traveling Abroad?

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Travelers to other countries often face health issues they wouldn't ordinarily experience at home. To minimize your risks of becoming seriously ill when traveling abroad, you should find out in advance whether any specific immunizations may be recommended for travel to the region of the world you'll be visiting. It's also a good time to review your own immunization history.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it's best to schedule a visit to your doctor or travel medicine clinic four to six weeks before an international trip. Since your body needs time to build up immunity after receiving a vaccine and many vaccines are given in a series over time, getting an early start on your immunizations is the best way to protect yourself. Even if you are making a last-minute trip or plan to leave in less than four weeks, you should still check with your doctor to see if any vaccines or preventive medications might be recommended.

The CDC divides travel vaccinations into three categories: routine, recommended, and required. The only vaccine classified as "required" by International Health Regulations is the yellow fever vaccination for travel to certain countries in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America.

"Routine" vaccinations are those that are normally administered, usually during childhood, in the United States. These include immunizations against

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/1/2014