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Which Travel Vaccines Will I Need?

Below is a list of vaccine-preventable travel-related diseases that are not covered by routine adult vaccinations:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Typhoid and paratyphoid fever
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Yellow Fever
  • Rabies
  • Japanese Encephalitis

Whether or not you may need one or more of these vaccines depends on any number of variables.  

"People assume it's one-size-fits-all -- OK, I'm going to Thailand, what do I need," says Phyllis Kozarsky, MD, professor of medicine and infectious diseases at Emory University. But according to Kozarsky, who is an expert consultant for the Division of Global Migration and Quarantine with the CDC, that's not enough. A business executive staying in Bangkok at a 5–star hotel has a completely different risk profile from a college student who's going to backpack in rural Thailand, says Kozarsky. So the vaccinations recommended for these two people would be different, even though they are going to the same country.  

"That's why we encourage people to see a travel health specialist," says Kozarsky. "Not only is your itinerary important, your medical history is important, too."  

Of course, it's a good idea to let your doctor know that you'll be traveling, especially if you have a chronic health condition. However, your doctor isn't likely to have all the vaccines you might need. "It doesn't pay for them to hold a vaccine like typhoid that they would only use once a year," says Kozarsky.  

Many travel immunizations need to be given in a series of shots given over a period of days or weeks. Plus, vaccines take time to work. So travel health experts recommend giving yourself 4 to 6 weeks to meet with a travel health provider about how to plan for your travel and to get any needed travel vaccinations.  

To find a travel clinic near you, you can go to the travel clinic locator on the Traveler's Health section of the CDC web site. When you meet with a travel specialist, he or she can provide you with recommendations based on the following:

Your current health

If you are taking medications for a condition like diabetes, there may be certain drug interactions you need to be aware of. For example, some drugs may reduce the effectiveness of travel vaccinations.   

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