Getting vaccinated against infectious disease 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 prior to departure to ensure maximum protection, says the U.S. CDC.
How long travel vaccines are protective depends on each vaccine. These vaccines introduce small amounts of viruses or bacteria (antigens) into your body, empowering immune systems to build 'antibodies' in case you’re exposed to a new disease.
When 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.
The most common travel vaccines are as follows:
- 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. The VLA1553 program was granted Fast Track designation by the U.S. FDA in December 2018.
- 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 so as to provoke a neutralizing immune response to the Ebola virus.
- Ebola prevention vaccine 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 the prevention of infectious diseases.
- 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.
- Merck's M-M-R II vaccine is also known as Measles, Mumps, and Rubella Virus Vaccine Live, is 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.
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.
RabAvert is a vaccine that contains an inactivated rabies antigen. The RabAvert vaccine is indicated for preexposure vaccination, in both primary series and booster dose, and for postexposure prophylaxis against rabies in all age groups.
- 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, is lyophilized, and is 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.
- Kinrix is a vaccine to prevent Diphtheria, Tetanus Toxoids, Pertussis, and Polio.
- Pediarix is a vaccine containing noninfectious proteins from diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis bacteria, hepatitis B virus, and inactivated polioviruses.
Travel Vaccine Alerts
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 come into contact with 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 countries in Africa. 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 has been extended through September 21, 2020.
August 14, 2020 - UK travelers have until 04:00 BST on August 15, 2020, to return home prior to 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 take place 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. And, 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. Information in 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 Kindom of Saudi Arabia will 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 to avoid all nonessential international travel.
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.
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
- World Health Organization
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.