When you are travelling, you may be at risk for a number of illnesses that can be prevented by vaccination. As you age, your vaccine-acquired protection against many illnesses may decrease, and your risk of getting certain diseases may increase.
You should consult a doctor, nurse or health care provider, or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel. This provides an opportunity to:
- review your vaccination history
- make sure you are up to date according to your provincial/territorial vaccination program
- discuss any health concerns you may have related to your trip
- assess your needs based on where you plan to travel and what you plan to do
Additional shots may be recommended depending on your age, anticipated travel activities and local conditions. Remember that preventing infection through vaccination is a lifelong process.
List of vaccines recommended for travel
The following diseases can be prevented by vaccination. Your health care provider may recommend that you be vaccinated against one or more of these diseases prior to travel.
- chicken pox (varicella)
- tick-borne encephalitis
- German measles (rubella)
- Haemophilus influenzae type b disease (Hib)
- Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
- HPV (human papillomavirus)
- Japanese encephalitis
- meningitis (meningococcal disease)
- pneumonia (pneumococcal disease)
- typhoid fever
- whooping cough (pertussis)
- yellow fever
Some countries require that you have received a yellow fever vaccination within the past 10 years and have an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis before you can enter the country.
Many countries require this proof of yellow fever vaccination if you’ve passed through an area where yellow fever may occur. Without such proof, you may be refused entry, quarantined or vaccinated.
Yellow fever vaccination is only given at designated yellow fever vaccination centres.
Some countries require that you receive specific vaccinations before you arrive. For example, Saudi Arabia requires proof of meningococcal vaccination for all pilgrims and proof of polio vaccination for all children going to Mecca during the Hajj.
Keep your family’s vaccination records in a safe and accessible place and carry copies when you travel.
If your destination country requires proof of yellow fever vaccination, you must carry the original International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis. Keep a copy of this certificate at home.
- If You Get Sick After Travelling
- Receiving Medical Care in Other Countries
- Sickness or Injury
- Travel Insurance
- Well on Your Way - A Canadian’s Guide to Healthy Travel Abroad
- Canadian Immunization Guide, Seventh Edition, 2006, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
- Immunization of Travellers (PHAC)
- International Travel and Health: Chapter 6 - Vaccine-preventable diseases and vaccines, World Health Organization (WHO)
- Recommended Immunization Schedules (PHAC)
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