What vaccinations should I get before I travel outside the U.S.?
International travel can be exciting, but it is important to note that some infections occur more frequently abroad compared with the United States. In addition to being up-to-date on routine vaccinations for living in the U.S., it may be important to get additional vaccinations before traveling internationally.
You should make sure that routine vaccines have been completed, such as your annual influenza vaccine, a recent tetanus booster (within 10 years) and two lifetime doses of measles/mumps/rubella vaccine (which many people born between 1957 and the mid-1980s have not received). Other vaccines — such as hepatitis A, hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis, meningococcus, rabies, and typhoid — might be beneficial depending on your age, destination, timing and duration of your trip and planned activities. There are also certain countries around the world that require proof of vaccination for yellow fever, meningococcus and/or polio.
Notably, there are also some conditions for which vaccines are not available: examples include malaria, traveler’s diarrhea and the virus causing the current outbreak of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus. So, depending on the destination, it may be very important to seek pre-travel counseling to ensure that you understand steps you can take to reduce your risk of getting sick and how to use any prophylactic medications.
Useful resources include the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/), which provides country-specific information for travelers, including those with specific medical conditions. Your primary care provider may also be able to help determine if specific vaccinations or prophylactic medications are needed. Additionally, there are travel clinics at UVa locations in Charlottesville that are dedicated to providing up-to-date and personalized pre-travel counseling to children and adults, with details listed below. It is important to plan ahead and ensure that there is sufficient time to get any important vaccinations; sometimes this requires four weeks to complete.
UVa Infectious Disease and Travelers Clinic
1300 Jefferson Park Ave., fifth floor
8 a.m.-noon Mondays
UVa-Travel Clinic at WorkMed
1910 Arlington Blvd.
1-4:30 p.m. Tuesdays
Young Travelers Clinic
Battle Building at 1204 W. Main St., sixth floor
1-4 p.m. Fridays
Elson UVa Student Health Travel Clinic (for UVa students)
400 Brandon Ave.
Dr. Tania Thomas is a specialist in infectious diseases at UVa Health.