So, you’ve cleared your calendar and saved your money, and the plans are finally coming together for your dream trip. The last thing you want is to get sick or be injured during your trip. Smart planning beforehand not only includes packing your suitcase right and doing your research on sights to see, but it also includes making sure you’ve gotten your shots and any other travel immunizations you need for the country you are about to venture into. Here’s what you need to know about shots and travel vaccination requirements before you take flight:
Why do I need shots when I travel?
Traveling to places around the world can put your health at risk if you don’t take the proper steps to prepare. Disease is one of those risks. Vaccines can be required depending on where you are headed. Making sure you have proper immunization for the country you are headed to is a must in your travel planning and prep.
How can I find out which shots I need before I travel, and how can I get them?
Schedule a visit with your doctor or health care provider to discuss your options. Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a Travelers’ Health site that includes information on specific destinations, travel health notices and alerts, updates on viruses (such as Zika), lists of clinics, a disease directory, and other resources. You can also contact your local or county health department. Travel medicine clinics can also provide services and advice; a directory is available at the International Society of Travel Medicine website. If you don’t have a primary care physician or health insurance, you still have options!
When should I get them? And what countries do I need them for?
The CDC recommends visiting a health-care provider at least four to six weeks before travel to allow time for any vaccine to take effect.
This tool can help you find vaccination recommendations based on your destination.
How much do vaccinations cost?
It’s hard to say, but they aren’t too cheap. It’s probably best to budget $100–$200 for shots, as many insurance providers don’t cover this service.
What happens if I get injured or sick?
Even a well-planned trip can include unexpected incidents. Before your arrival, research the local clinics that travelers have had to go to in the country you are visiting. The US Department of State web page “Your Health Abroad” is a great tool. If you have health insurance and a primary care physician, they might be able to advise you as well. It’s also wise to bring along information in the local language that lists important information such as your blood type, chronic conditions, and medications. If you have a chronic condition that requires regular maintenance (e.g., dialysis, serious allergies), you’ll need to make arrangements before heading abroad.