Get Your Vaccinations Before Your Vacation

International travel to other parts of the globe, from the United States often requires certain immunizations to guard against illnesses. Depending on the chosen country of your destination, you will need to research the applicable travel immunizations. In the course of your fact finding, you will learn that immunizations are categorized as routine, required and recommended. Familiarizing yourself with the diseases prevalent in the country you plan to visit will help you gain a better perspective on the required travel immunizations you will need.  Thailand will have different vaccination requirements than Uganda.

While this may sound dramatic it is sound advice; before you pack your bags here are some points you may wish to consider. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes a book annually on health information for international travel apart from online information available. You could also go to the CDC home page and do a search for travelers’ health to learn about vaccines, medications and other health safety measures to prevent illness during an overseas trip.  Making sure you have the right vaccinations for your destination and that they are up to date is really just as important as remembering to bring your passport.

The following information will be helpful in guiding you through your search for information on travel immunizations.

Immunizations for travel are required at various times; some may be required 3 months or 6 months before the travel date. Others may be required a month or a week prior to travel. Immunization for hepatitis B for example, will necessitate a series of shots to protect you from the disease.   Make sure you allow ample time to receive the immunizations you need prior to your travel date.

Talk to your physician about the benefits and risks of immunizations for the country you plan to travel to. Check your medical records to make sure you get the immunizations you need and avoid any duplication as well. Make sure your latest complete physical exam was within the last 2 years.

The different categories of immunizations as mentioned earlier may be explained as follows:


  • Routine immunizations are the ones we take from birth and get updated as required all through life.
  • Required immunizations cover those stipulated by the country you plan to visit; for example vaccinations for yellow fever and meningitis. Foreign governments mandate these vaccinations to protect citizens and you will need to produce your international certificate of vaccination to enter these countries.
  • Recommended vaccinations are dependent on the destination country and your personal details like age and health status. Some of the recommended vaccines include hepatitis A, hepatitis B, Rabies, Polio, Typhoid and Japanese encephalitis.


Age is another factor when seeking immunizations for travel. There are various age groups for which different vaccinations may be required. Young children for example would have already had many of the vaccinations on the list, while older people will probably need to be immunized or require booster shots.

Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers need to take special precautions and your doctor will be able to advise you on the right travel immunizations to have.

A careful review of your health status and immunization requirements with your physician should set you up for a safe and healthy trip.