Travel vaccines are immunizations you may not need at home but become very important when visiting another part of the country or the world. As the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes, depending on where you travel, you may be exposed to diseases that are rare in the United States. Pre-travel vaccines help to protect you from these illnesses.
Common Travel Vaccines
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that travel vaccines can be divided into a few categories based on how the disease spreads. These include:
Diseases that can be spread from person to person have different transmission routes. For example, meningitis can spread through saliva or respiratory secretions, while Hepatitis B spreads through blood or sexual contact. So you may need different vaccines depending on what you will do on your trip.
The most common disease spread through animal saliva is rabies. If you’re visiting a country where rabies is common, you may need this vaccine. It’s especially important if you’ll spend a lot of time in rural areas or on outdoor adventures.
Diseases such as Japanese encephalitis and yellow fever spread through mosquito bites. Which vaccines you need depends on where you will travel and what type of accommodations you will have.
Contaminated food or water
Cholera, typhoid, and Hepatitis A spread through food and water. Hepatitis A vaccines are recommended for most travelers because of how common the disease is worldwide, while the other vaccines are location specific.
Other pre-travel vaccines
A few weeks before your trip is an excellent time to catch up on any regular vaccines you might need. Covid-19 vaccines are no longer required for U.S. nationals returning to the United States from overseas. But many countries still require proof of vaccination for entry, and with the virus continuing to spread, it only makes sense to minimize your risk of getting sick in a foreign country.
Also, ensure that you are up to date on such common vaccines as:
- MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)
- Varicella (chicken pox)
These diseases spread easily in the United States as well as around the globe. Even if you never travel to another country, it’s important to make sure you are protected. Your doctor may have additional recommendations based on your age and current state of health.
What vaccines do I need?
You can learn which vaccines are recommended for your trip on the CDC’s Destination Page for the location you will be visiting. These pages also have helpful tips and advice for avoiding common diseases that are not vaccine-preventable.