Getting vaccinated against infectious diseases is one of the most effective ways to protect your health while traveling abroad. Most travel vaccines need to be administered at least 1-month before departure to ensure maximum protection, says the U.S. CDC.
Before traveling outside the USA, you should speak with a healthcare provider who is familiar with your destination. And before traveling abroad, you should be up to date on your routine vaccines as well, says the CDC.
Some countries require proof of vaccination for certain diseases (polio, yellow fever), which must be documented on an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis before entering or leaving a country.
The most common travel vaccines are as follows:
Comirnaty Vaccine - Developed in Germany, is an mRNA vaccine that encodes an optimized SARS-CoV-2 full-length spike glycoprotein in a 2-dose (0, 21d) regimen.
Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine - Developed in Massachusetts, is an mRNA vaccine candidate against the SARS-CoV-2 betacoronavirus encoding for a prefusion stabilized form of the Spike protein.
Sputnik V Vaccine - Developed in Russia, is an adenoviral-based vaccine that deploys two different adenovirus vectors (rAd26 and rAd5) for the first and second vaccination, boosting its effect.
CHIKV-VLP Chikungunya vaccine candidate is a multi-protein structure that mimics the organization and conformation of naturally occurring viruses without the viral genome that could promote a stronger immune response and increased antibody production. The CHIKV VLP vaccine candidate is licensed from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
VLA1553 is a monovalent, single dose, live-attenuated vaccine candidate conducting late-stage, phase 3 studies. Valneva SE's VLA1553 is currently the only chikungunya vaccine candidate in clinical development, showing fully sustained titers 1-year after a single vaccination.
mRNA-1944 encodes a fully human IgG antibody originally isolated from B cells of a patient with a prior history of potent immunity against Chikungunya infection. It comprises two mRNAs that encode this anti-Chikungunya antibody's heavy and light chains within lipid nanoparticle technology.
Dengvaxia (CYD-TDV) is a live attenuated tetravalent chimeric vaccine made using recombinant DNA technology by replacing the PrM (pre-membrane) and E (envelope) structural genes of yellow fever attenuated 17D strain vaccine with those from the four dengue serotypes.
TAK-003 is an investigational live-attenuated tetravalent dengue vaccine, preventing dengue fever caused by any of the four serotypes of the dengue virus, each of which can cause dengue fever or Severe Dengue.
Ervebo, Ebola Zaire Vaccine, Live, formerly known as V920, is a recombinant, replication-competent Ebola vaccine, consisting of a vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), which has been genetically engineered to express a glycoprotein from the Zaire ebolavirus to provoke a neutralizing immune response to the Ebola virus.
Ebola therapy consists of 2 components, Zabdeno (Ad26.ZEBOV) and Mvabea (MVA-BN-Filo). Zabdeno is given first, and Mvabea is administered approximately 8-weeks later as a booster. The prime-boost vaccination method is an established approach for preventing infectious diseases.
Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine
JENVAC is a single dose inactivated Japanese Encephalitis (JE) Vaccine. This Vero cell-derived vaccine is prepared from an Indian strain (Kolar- 821564XY) of the JE virus.
Ixiaro is an inactivated, adsorbed Vero cell culture-derived vaccine targeted against the Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV). It is prepared by propagating JEV strain SA14-14-2 in Vero cells.
Mosquirix (RTS, S/AS01) is a recombinant vaccine candidate consisting of the P. falciparum circumsporozoite protein (CSP) from the pre-erythrocytic stage.
M-M-R II vaccine is also known as Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Virus Vaccine Live, a live virus vaccine containing weakened forms of measles virus, mumps virus, and rubella virus. M-M-R II works by helping the immune system protect itself from these viruses.
Priorix is currently licensed outside the USA in over 100 countries, and it is recommended for use in individuals aged ≥9 months, according to a 1- or 2-dose vaccination schedule depending on the country.
IPOL is a sterile suspension of three types of poliovirus: Type 1 (Mahoney), Type 2 (MEF-1), and Type 3 (Saukett). Sanofi Pasteur's single-antigen IPOL vaccine is a highly purified, inactivated poliovirus vaccine with enhanced potency.
Sabin Inactivated Poliovirus Vaccine (IPV) is a liquid trivalent vaccine produced from Sabin poliovirus type 1, 2, and 3 strains grown on Vero cells.
RabAvert is a vaccine that contains an inactivated rabies antigen. The RabAvert vaccine is indicated for preexposure vaccination, in both primary and booster doses, and for postexposure prophylaxis against rabies in all age groups.
Imovax is an inactivated vaccine made from an attenuated rabies virus. It is a sterile, stable, freeze-dried suspension of Rabies Vaccine Inactivated virus prepared from WISTAR Rabies PM/WI 38 1503-3M strain.
Vivotif oral vaccine (capsules) is indicated for immunization of adults and children greater than 6 years of age against disease caused by Salmonella Typhi. Vivotif Oral contains live bacteria called Salmonella typhi strain Ty21a, which does not cause typhoid fever.
YF-VAX Vaccine: YF-VAX is prepared by culturing the 17D-204 strain of yellow fever virus in living avian leukosis virus-free chicken embryos. The vaccine contains sorbitol and gelatin as a stabilizer, lyophilized, and hermetically sealed under nitrogen. No preservative is added. YF-Vax is licensed in the USA and expects to become available in late 2020.
Stamaril Vaccine: Stamaril is a live, attenuated yellow fever vaccine that contains the active substance Yellow fever virus 17D-204 strain produced in specified pathogen-free chick embryos. Stamaril has been offered in Europe and other countries for decades. Stamaril yellow fever vaccine is currently distributed in over 70 countries and is available in the USA during 2020.
Combination Travel Vaccines
Kinrix is a vaccine to prevent Diphtheria, Tetanus Toxoids, Pertussis, and Polio.
Pediarix is a vaccine containing noninfectious proteins from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis bacteria, hepatitis B virus, and inactivated polioviruses.
Travel Vaccination News
February 4, 2021 - The U.S. CDC issued a Level 2 Alert, stating there are polio outbreaks in several countries in Asia. The CDC recommends that all travelers to these countries be vaccinated fully against polio.
March 1, 2021 - The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) reports yellow fever outbreaks in multiple states (Bauchi, Benue, Delta, Ebonyi, and Enugu), as confirmed by testing at the Nigerian National Reference Laboratory. Response activities are underway, and mass vaccination campaigns are planned in the affected areas.
January 27, 2021 - GSK, PATH, and Bharat Biotech (BBIL) announced a product transfer agreement for the malaria vaccine, RTS,S/AS01E (Mosquirix). The agreement includes the transfer of manufacturing of the RTS,S antigen part of the vaccine, and a license on all rights of the RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine to BBIL.
January 19, 2021 - The U.S. CDC announced 'travelers should avoid all travel to Barbados. Travel may increase your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19.'
January 4, 2021 - There are vaccine-derived polio outbreaks in many African countries. The U.S. CDC recommends that all travelers to these countries be vaccinated fully against polio. Before traveling to these countries, adults who completed their routine polio vaccine series as children should receive a single, lifetime adult booster dose of polio vaccine.
December 23, 2020 - France announced it would reopen its borders to passengers from the United Kingdom, ending a two-day blockade intended, which was focused on stopping the spread of a new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus variant identified in England. This variant is currently referred to as “SARS-CoV-2 VUI 202012/01” or “B.1.1.7.”
December 17, 2020 - The US Department of State issued a 'Reconsider Travel Advisory' for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws. The State Department says to read the COVID-19 page before planning any international travel to Hong Kong.
December 14, 2020 - The US Department of State issued an advisory stating: reconsider travel to the Turks and Caicos Islands due to health and safety measures and COVID-related conditions. Exercise increased caution in the Turks and Caicos Islands due to crime.
December 11, 2020 - The United States, Mexico, and Canada have agreed to extend non-essential travel restrictions between the countries through at least January 21, 2021, announced the U.S. DHS Secretary.
December 11, 2020 - Health officials in Mauritania have reported Rift Valley Fever's outbreak following heavy flooding in the country. Cases have been reported throughout the country, including the capital region of Nouakchott.
December 9, 2020 - According to studies published by The Lancet, scientists have developed the first poliovirus vaccine against a mutated form of the disease that is causing disease outbreaks across Africa and Asia.
December 4, 2020 - International aviation associations urge European governments to abolish quarantine measures and other travel restrictions following new recommendations published by the ECDC.
November 30, 2020 - The U.S. CDC announced an outbreak of yellow fever in Nigeria. The outbreak is currently in Bauchi, Benue, Delta, Ebonyi, and Enugu states. Unless vaccinated, travelers should not visit these areas. Moreover, travelers to Nigeria should prevent yellow fever by getting vaccinated at least 10 days before travel and taking steps to prevent mosquito bites.
November 30, 2020 - The US Department of State issued a Level 3 Travel Advisory stating 'reconsider travel to Spain due to COVID-19. And exercise increased caution in Spain due to terrorism. Exercise increased caution in Barcelona and Catalonia due to civil unrest.
November 18, 2020 - The emergence of circulating vaccine-derived polioviruses through the evolution of the oral polio vaccine (OPV) poses a significant obstacle to polio eradication. Understanding the early genetic changes that occur as OPV evolves and transmits is important for preventing future outbreaks. Although wild-type polio was eradicated in Africa in 2020, vaccine-derived poliovirus can cause outbreaks in low vaccination rates.
October 26, 2020 - The BMJ reported that various counties in the Southern Hemisphere, such as New Zealand, “skipped” the 2020 flu season. New Zealand's influenza fatality rates at the height of winter were the lowest absolute figure since 2016, and when accounting for population growth, it is the lowest death rate per 100 000 people in at least 10 years. Flu cases were almost non-existent, with a peak of 0.8% of people self-reporting flu-like symptoms, and GP surveillance has found no confirmed cases.
October 25, 2020 - An outbreak of the mosquito-borne Mayaro virus disease in French Guiana has resulted in 13 lab-confirmed cases within 3 months of each other, reported the World Health Organization.
October 20, 2020 - New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that Arizona and Maryland had been added to New York's COVID-19 travel advisory. No areas have been removed. The advisory requires individuals who have traveled to New York from areas with significant community spread to quarantine for 14 days. The quarantine applies to any person arriving from an area with a positive test rate higher than 10 per 100,000 residents over a 7-day rolling average or an area with a 10 percent or higher positivity rate over a 7-day rolling average.
October 19, 2020 - Health officials in Spain have reported outbreaks of West Nile virus disease in Sevilla, Cádiz, Huelva provinces, and Badajoz province reported the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
October 14, 2020 - The US CDC announced the Dengue virus is an ongoing risk in many parts of Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
October 6, 2020 - The U.S. CDC confirmed polio outbreaks had been reported in the following Asian countries (map). Before traveling to these countries, adults who completed their routine polio vaccine series as children should receive a single, lifetime adult booster dose of polio vaccine.
September 27, 2020 - Health officials from the Republic of Fiji have reported leptospirosis in the Central and Northern divisions.
September 18, 2020 - The U.S. CDC issued a new Travel Alert regarding measles outbreaks in various African countries.
August 31, 2020 - The CDC’s recent Level 3 Travel Alert recommends travelers avoid all nonessential international travel to the British Virgin Islands. The health risk from the coronavirus pandemic has increased in the British Virgin Islands over the past 14-days; several new cases of COVID-19 disease have been confirmed in the British Virgin Islands.
August 31, 2020 - There is an outbreak of Ebola in the Équateur province in the western part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Travelers to this area could be infected with Ebola if they contact an infected person’s blood or other body fluids.
August 28, 2020 - The U.S. CDC issued a Level 3 Travel Alert, Avoid Nonessential Travel, which says ‘Cruise passengers are at increased risk of the person-to-person spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, and outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported on several cruise ships during 2020.’
August 25, 2020 - There are polio outbreaks in several African countries. Before traveling to these countries, adults who completed their routine polio vaccine series as children should receive a single, lifetime adult booster dose of polio vaccine.
August 17, 2020 - The U.S. CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential international travel to Jersey. The CDC's Level 3 Travel Alert said 'travelers are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 disease, and should consider postponing all travel, including essential travel, to Jersey.
August 14, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced the border closure of non-essential travel between Canada, Mexico, and the USA had been extended through September 21, 2020.
August 14, 2020 - UK travelers have until 04:00 BST on August 15, 2020, to return home before a new quarantine order being implemented.
August 7, 2020 - The U.S. CDC issued a Level 3 Travel Alert that recommends that Americans not travel to Iraq for Ashura, which will occur around August 28–August 29, 2020, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
August 6, 2020 - The Bahamas became the only country in the English-speaking Caribbean to be issued a U.S. State Department Level 4 Travel Advisory, indicating that US residents should not travel here because of the health and safety measures and COVID-19 disease-related conditions.
August 6, 2020 - The US Department of State announced it had lifted the Global Level 4 Health Advisory, which advised U.S. citizens to avoid all international travel due to the global impact of the COVID-19 disease pandemic. The Global Advisory was issued on March 19, 2020.
August 6, 2020 - Update On Coronavirus Travel Restrictions.
August 4, 2020 - The U.S. CDC recommends all travelers to these African countries be vaccinated fully against polio. Before traveling to these countries, adults who completed their routine polio vaccine series as children should receive a single, lifetime adult booster dose of a polio vaccine.
August 3, 2020 - Immunity certificates are not supported by scientific evidence and therefore not recommended by the WHO.
August 3, 2020 - WHO update number 373, based on data up to 19 July 2020. This WHO report is categorized by influenza transmission zones, which are geographical groups of countries, areas, or territories with similar influenza transmission patterns.
July 29, 2020 - The Global Polio Eradication Initiative's published weekly summary of new WPV and cVDPV polioviruses cases.
July 29, 2020 - The U.S. CDC reissued a Level 1 Travel Alert regarding the ongoing Dengue outbreak in the region of the Americas.
July 8, 2020 - The WHO Polio Emergency Committee recommended that the international risk of poliovirus spread remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern under the International Health Regulations.
June 30, 2020 - The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced that only people who currently reside in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would be permitted to make their pilgrimage during 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
May 29, 2020 - Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center recently raised its travel advisory for the Chinese provinces of Shandong and Fujian to a Level 2 Alert status, following reports of multiple children infected with avian influenza A (H9N2).
May 28, 2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation, and CDC guidance regarding international travel has been updated.
May 21, 2020 - The U.S. CDC announced many parts of Central and South America, Mexico, and the Caribbean have continued to report dengue fever cases.
March 27, 2020 - The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Level 3 Travel Alert recommending Americans avoid all nonessential international travel.
September 2, 2019 - Travel vaccination recommendations and infection risk in HIV-positive travelers. The immune responses to several vaccines are reduced in HIV-positive people. In vaccines for hepatitis A, hepatitis B, influenza, pneumococcus, meningococcus, and yellow fever, there is a good body of data in the literature showing reduced immune responsiveness and help guide appropriate vaccination strategies. For other vaccines like Japanese encephalitis, rabies, typhoid fever, polio, and cholera, the data are not as robust; however, it is still possible to understand the reduced responses seen with these vaccines.
July 1, 2019 - Measles resurgence in the USA: how international travel compounds vaccine resistance. The most troubling aspect of this development is the global increase in measles cases. From Jan 1, 2019, to April 26, 2019, the USA reported 704 confirmed measles cases spanning 22 states, compared with 372 reported cases in 2018, 120 in 2017, 86 in 2016, 188 in 2015 667 in 2014. Therefore, only 4 months into 2019, the number of cases reported is already the highest since measles was officially eliminated in the US in 2000.
Travel Vaccine Overview
Vaccines protect travelers from illnesses that are usually travel-related. Specific vaccines are recommended depending on where and when a person is visiting. And personal factors, such as age and health status.
The United Nations World Tourism Organization estimates that internationally there were just 25 million tourist arrivals in 1950. in 2018, just 68 years later, this number increased to 1.4 billion international arrivals per year.
About 90 million Americans traveled internationally during 2019. However, tens of millions of travelers were not appropriately vaccinated before departure. Furthermore, Last-Minute travelers (LMT) comprised 16% of all international travelers. And at least 1 travel vaccine was deferred by 18% of LMTs, because of insufficient time before departure.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends international travelers are correctly immunized to protect their health, even if vaccinations aren't required for entry by the government of the country you are visiting.
Travel Vaccine FAQs
Frequently asked questions and answers related to travel vaccines are published by trusted sources, such as:
- Immunization Action Coalition
- US Health & Human Services
- US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- US Department of State
- World Health Organization
- UK National Health Service
Note: This content is aggregated from various news sources and vaccine research organizations and has been fact-checked by healthcare providers, such as Dr. Robert Carlson.