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Common Travel Vaccines

Visiting other countries is an exciting and fun way to experience the world. But it may pose some health risks.

To prevent yourself from new diseases you may find in other countries, be sure to get your travel vaccines.

Getting these vaccines before leaving the U.S. can help keep you safe and healthy.

Some countries have vaccine requirements before you visit. They may turn you away without them.

Call 412-647-7228 to make an appointment for travel vaccines through the UPMC Center for Care of Infectious Diseases

What Are Vaccines?

Vaccines are medicines that activate the body's defenses and reduce the chance that you'll get a certain disease.

These diseases are most often infectious, caused by viruses or bacteria.

Most vaccines cause the body to make antibodies against an infectious agent. Antibodies are blood proteins that attack germs and help the immune system fight them off.

The goal of getting a vaccine is to reduce your risk of getting the disease if exposed. Some vaccines do not prevent disease but can reduce how severe it is.

What's the Difference Between Routine, Recommended, and Required Vaccines?

The CDC classifies travel vaccines in those three groups.

Routine vaccines

These are ones the CDC urges all people in the U.S. and overseas to get.

Routine childhood vaccines fight against:

  • Measles.
  • Tetanus.
  • Chickenpox.
  • Polio.

Adults should get routine flu and COVID-19 vaccines.

Recommended vaccines

The CDC advises people to get these vaccines before going to certain countries.

Required vaccines

These vaccines are ones the country you're visiting requires you to have to enter the country.

Most only require the vaccine against the yellow fever virus. Some countries now also require the COVID vaccine.

Vaccines are vital to your health. They protect you from potentially fatal diseases.

Travel vaccines protect against infections not present in the U.S. that you may come across on your travels.

Reasons to vaccinate against these diseases include:

  • Other countries may not have adequate medical care.
  • Your health insurance may not cover health care costs in another country.<
  • The U.S. may not let you return home while infected with certain diseases. You may have to wait to come home until you're no longer contagious.

What Are the Most Common Travel Vaccines?

The three most commonly recommended travel vaccines are:

  • Hepatitis A vaccine for travel to most other countries in the world. Hepatitis A is a common viral infection that you can get from contaminated water or food.
  • Yellow fever vaccine for travel to some parts of Africa and South America. Yellow fever is a virus that spreads through mosquito bites.
  • Typhoid vaccine for travel to countries where it's circulating. South Asian countries, such as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, have a higher risk of typhoid. Typhoid is a disease caused by bacteria in contaminated food and water.

Based on where you're going and what you'll do, other travel vaccines you may need include:

  • Rabies.
  • Cholera.
  • Japanese encephalitis.

New recommendations for vaccines may arise as conditions change in different countries. For instance, the CDC may urge the monkeypox vaccine if you're going to a country with an outbreak.

» See the latest disease outbreaks and health notices from the CDC.

» Find out what vaccines the country you're visiting say you should get.

How Far in Advance Should I Get Travel Vaccines?

The CDC suggests getting your travel vaccines at least one month before traveling because:

  • You may need more than one dose over the course of weeks before you're fully vaccinated.
  • Most vaccines take at least two weeks to take full effect.
  • You may need to visit a special clinic for certain vaccines your PCP doesn't have.
  • If you need the yellow fever vaccine, most countries require it at least 10 days before you depart.

Why Choose UPMC Infectious Disease for Your Travel Vaccines?

UPMC's Travel Health program:

  • Offers adult travelers world-class preventive health care.
  • Tailors our services to your health status and destination.
  • Has infectious disease experts certified in travel and tropical medicine. They have decades of knowledge about travel vaccines and specialize in the medically complex traveler.

Contact UPMC Travel Health

To make an appointment with an expert at UPMC Travel Health through the UPMC Center for Care of Infectious Diseases, please call 412-647-7228. Travel health appointments are conducted virtually – by video visit – unless you live outside of the state of Pennsylvania. If you live out-of-state, you must schedule an in-person appointment due to physician licensure requirements.

Our Location

UPMC Center for Care of Infectious Diseases

Falk Medical Building, 7th Floor
3601 Fifth Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213