CDC Travelers’ Health Branch provides health advice to international travelers, including advice about medications and vaccines. On this page, you’ll find some of our most frequently asked questions and responses.
Travel Vaccines and Medications
1. What vaccines or medicines should I get before traveling to my destination?
A: It depends on where you are going and what you will be doing. Use our destination tool to find the vaccines and medications you need for your next trip, and schedule an appointment with your doctor or a travel medicine specialist at least a month before traveling to get recommended or required vaccines and medicines.
2. If I am going on a cruise that will stop in several countries, which vaccines should I get for each country?
A: You should be up-to-date on routine vaccines, such as measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), tetanus, and flu. Depending on where you’re going and what activities you plan, other vaccines may be recommended. More cruise information.
3. What is the difference between routine, recommended, and required vaccines?
A: Routine vaccines are those that are recommended for everyone in the United States based on their age, health condition, or other risk factors. You may think of these as the childhood vaccines you got before starting school, but some are routinely recommended for adults, like the adult pertussis booster Tdap, and some every year (like the flu vaccine) or every 10 years (like the tetanus booster for adults).
A required vaccine is one that travelers must have in order to enter a country, based on that country’s regulations. Yellow fever, meningococcal, and polio vaccines may be required by certain countries.
Recommended vaccines are those that CDC recommends travelers get to protect their health, even if they aren't required for entry by the government of the country you are visiting. They protect travelers from illnesses that are usually travel-related. For example, a typhoid vaccine can prevent typhoid, a serious disease spread by contaminated food and water, which is not usually found in the United States. The vaccines recommended for a traveler depend on several things, including age, health, and itinerary.
4. What are the prices of vaccines needed for travel outside the United States?
A: Prices vary by provider and insurance coverage. You should be able to get routine vaccines from your primary health care provider, health clinic, or health department. Travel clinics and yellow fever vaccine clinics should be able to give you any vaccines that your health care provider cannot.
5. How long do travel vaccines last (when do I need to get a booster dose)?
A: How long travel vaccines last depends on the vaccine. If you're traveling outside the United States, you should see a health care provider who is familiar with travel medicine at least a month before your trip. They can give you advice about any vaccines and vaccine boosters based on where you are going and your previous vaccinations. Be sure to bring your vaccine records to your appointment!
6. Which medications can I travel with?
A: When packing for trips abroad, don’t forget there may be special considerations for bringing your prescriptions and other medicines with you. Some medicines that are commonly prescribed or available over-the-counter in the United States can be illegal in other countries. Check with the embassy or consulate in the country you will be visiting to make sure your medicines are permitted in that country.
See your health care provider at least a month before you go to get any needed or extra medications, and pack medications in your carry-on in case your luggage is lost.