What to Know About Vaccinations Before Traveling Abroad

Three levels of vaccinations are recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): routine, recommended, and required. Generally speaking, as long as you are current on your routine adult health vaccinations, you are covered for travel to most countries.

However, infectious diseases such as malaria and yellow fever still exist in some parts of the world. To find out which inoculations the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends for specific countries, visit http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/ or phone 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348. The CDC website provides health alerts and warnings, plus a searchable database of recommended inoculations and health information by country.

Another helpful site is the US State Department websitewhich not only talks about vaccinations recommended by the US government but also offers entry requirements for visiting individual countries. Some countries require foreign travelers to have an International Certificate of Vaccination, also known as a Yellow Card, or other proof of required inoculations. Check with the foreign embassy of the country to be visited or passed through for current entry requirements.

To best protect yourself:

  • A general physical with your primary care physician or travel health professional several weeks prior to travel is recommended to maximize health benefits and review all needed immunizations. Or make an appointment with a doctor specializing in vaccinations. At your appointment, tell your doctor about both current and previous medical conditions, especially any that might affect your immune system.
  • If children are traveling with you, they will require a special vaccination schedule. Inquire early to make sure you have allowed enough time.


US Travel Insurance Association (UStiA)
UStiA is a national association of insurance carriers, third-party administrators, insurance agencies and related businesses involved in the development, administration and marketing of travel insurance and travel assistance products.