International travelers should be aware of the various health risk associated with the countries they are traveling to and learn how to minimize their risk of acquiring certain diseases. It is recommended that people planning to travel consult with their primary care practitioner or a travel medical clinic at least 4-8 weeks prior to departure. Often recommendations regarding vaccines and/or medication will be made depending on the country of destination. It is important to note that most vaccines take time to become effective in your body. Some vaccines must be given in a series over a period of days, weeks or months.
Do I Need to Get Vaccines?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention divides vaccines for travel into 3 categories: routine, recommended and required.
Routine Vaccines - these are necessary for protection from diseases that are still common in many parts of the world even though they rarely occur in the United States.
Recommended Vaccines - these protect travelers from illnesses present in other parts of the world and also prevent the importation of infectious diseases across international borders.
Required Vaccines - at this time there is only 1 required vaccine, yellow fever, for travel to certain countries in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America.
Check with your primary care provider or local health department regarding the availability of routine vaccines. Vaccines required for travel to certain countries are only available from clinics specializing in travel health.