Travel Immunizations—An Essential Piece of Trip Planning


Traveling internationally is an exciting adventure—but before you go, make sure you’re completely prepared, which means researching your destination and acquiring any recommended vaccines. Depending on the location you’re traveling to, you may be exposed to vaccine-preventable diseases that have become rare in the United States. In some locations, you may be required to obtain a specific vaccination before entry.

It’s essential to make sure you get all vaccines needed for the countries you’re visiting, and be aware of any health issues that may be prevalent in those locations. After all, acquiring a disease while traveling won’t just ruin your trip, it could have serious long-term health consequences. Luckily, there are many resources available for international travelers if you’d like to prepare for optimal health conditions on your trip.

First, you can search by destination to identify any health risks as well as recommended corresponding vaccines on the CDC website. The CDC also offers an app, TravWell, with destination-specific vaccine recommendations, a checklist for travel preparation, and a customizable packing list.

Second, make sure you’re up to date on the recommended vaccines, ideally 4-6 weeks prior to your departure. Washington Occupational Health Associates (WOHA) offers vaccinations as well as pre-travel consultations in our DC metro clinic.

 In addition to obtaining the recommended travel vaccinations, there are a few things you should do to make sure your health is a priority.

1. Check frequently for travel health notices

 The CDC maintains a comprehensive list of updated notices for international destinations—make sure to check yours before you travel.

2. Get reputable travelers’ health insurance

Check your insurance plan at home to see what benefits extend to traveling internationally, and if needed, obtain an additional policy. Ideally, travel health insurance should cover both medical and flight expenses.

3. Be careful with what you eat and drink

Once you arrive at your destination, it’s important to be extremely careful about what you ingest. Only drink bottled water (not opened and refilled, make sure the seal is intact) in sealed containers if you’re traveling to an undeveloped country, and ask for any other drinks with no ice. Food should be steaming hot and well cooked, and try to avoid fruit that’s already been peeled as well as raw, leafy vegetables and salads.

4. Protect yourself against mosquito-borne diseases

Bring or purchase an insect repellent containing DEET and use it frequently. If you’re visiting a country with a high risk of malaria, your doctor may prescribe a medication before your visit.

5. If you become sick, know where to go

 Do some research before you leave on what your plan will be if you become ill. Look for reputable physicians offices and clinics in the area you’ll be traveling to, and make sure you keep the information with you. While abroad, if you need to purchase medication, locate a legitimate pharmacy and look for major brands that you’re familiar with. Check the seals for any damage or tampering.

Are you an employer with employees traveling abroad? It’s just as important to ensure your team is protected—keeping them safe and healthy while on the job is one of your top priorities. Ensuring that travel immunizations are available and easily accessible to your employees is an essential part of your benefits that shouldn’t be overlooked. Regardless of your destination, it’s important to arrive prepared. In our DC metro area clinic, WOHA provides vaccinations and International Certificate of Vaccinations, as well as up-to-date recommendations, pre-travel medications, and health guidelines according to your travel plans. For more information or to schedule an appointment, fill out our form or give us a call.