Travel Immunization Basics – The Travel Pharmacist

travel first aid kit


Travel immunizations can make or break your time spent in a foreign country. Ensuring that your body is capable of fighting off diseases you may encounter on your travels is the most important thing you can do to ensure a safe and healthy trip. Depending on where you plan to travel and what type of traveling you plan to to – you might require various vaccinations or medications to protect you from a variety of illnesses.  Whether you are heading to the tropical regions and might encounter malaria carrying mosquitoes, or if you are heading to an area where Yellow Fever is prominent, it is wise to take precautions.

The most common vaccinations when traveling abroad include:

  • Yellow Fever
  • Hepatitis
  • Tetanus
  • Malaria – typically a prophylactic pill can be taken

Many countries have vaccination requirements in order to enter the area. Be sure to check your destination for both required and suggested vaccinations. Certain times of the year have more prevalent cases of illness, as do more remote regions.

PLAN AHEAD!  A few vaccination treatments require a series of vaccinations (like the Hepatitis series).  Not only might it take several weeks/months to get a complete series of shots, many times the effectiveness of the vaccination are not immediate. Also, you don’t want to be battling any possible post-vaccination side effects while you’re traveling.  Start planning your vaccinations as soon as possible once you’ve made travel plans.

Not all insurance companies will cover your vaccinations because they are not the typical preventative medicine. Check with your carrier to see what they might cover. Some insurance will allow the shots, but they require you to pay up front and submit forms for reimbursement. Be sure to check with your doctor before making an appointment as well. It might be better to go to a travel clinic who will have all the most updated information on country requirements, actually have vaccination products in stock, and can provide you with the appropriate documentation to bring with you to verify your immunizations. Many local pharmacies are starting to integrate Travel Medicine into their stores, so this might be a good place to start.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has valuable resources for more information on vaccinations. They also provide specific destination information. Start with a list of the places you’ll be visiting and see what’s required.


Destination info:

Don’t forget to bring along proof of your vaccinations with your travel papers as some countries will not allow you to enter without the required documentation.

Happy, Healthy Travels!