Travel Vaccines

Travel Vaccines

Vaccine needs vary considerably from country to country, but the best place to start is with the recommended vaccine schedules for children and adults. In Utah, some vaccinations are required for school entry. However, most of the vaccines that are routinely administered in childhood require periodic booster doses throughout life to maintain an effective level of immunity. Adults often neglect to keep up the recommended schedule of booster vaccinations, particularly if the risk of infection is low. Additionally, some adults have never been vaccinated at all. It is important to realize that diseases such as diphtheria and poliomyelitis, which no longer occur in most industrialized countries, many be present in those visited by travelers. Pretravel precautions should include booster doses of routine vaccines if the regular schedule has not been followed, or a full course of primary immunization for people who have never been vaccinated.

Additional vaccines are advised on the basis of a travel risk assessment for the individual traveler. In deciding which vaccines are appropriate, the following factors should be considered for each vaccine:

  • risk of exposure to the disease
  • age, health status, vaccination history
  • special risk factors
  • reactions to previous vaccine doses, allergies
  • risk of infecting others
  • cost

Mandatory vaccination, as authorized by the International Health Regulations, now concerns only yellow fever. Yellow fever vaccination is given for two different reasons:

(1) to protect the individual in areas where there is a risk of yellow fever infection, and
(2) to protect vulnerable countries from importation of the yellow fever virus.

Travelers should therefore be vaccinated if they visit a country where there is a risk of exposure to yellow fever. They must be vaccinated if they visit a country that requires yellow fever vaccination as a condition of entry. This condition applies to all travelers who arrive from (including airport transit) a yellow fever endemic country.

Travelers should be provided with a written record of all vaccines administered (patient-retained record), preferably using the international vaccination certificate (required in the case of yellow fever vaccination).

To find out which vaccines are needed for the region you will be visiting, you may go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Travelers’ Health website. You will find a wealth of travel information at this site: food and water recommendations, disease outbreak areas, recommended precautions and much more. It’s a great place to start, when planning a trip.

Category Vaccine

Routine Vaccination

Diphtheria/tetanus/pertussis (DTaP)
or tetanus/diphtheria for age 7+ (Td)
Hepatitis B (HBV)
Haemophilus influenzae type b (HIB)
Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR)
Poliomyelitis (IPV)

Selective vaccination determined by destination and risk factors

Hepatitis A (HAV)
Japanese encephalitis
Malaria (pills)
Meningococcal meningitis
Pneumococcal disease
Tick-borne encephalitis
Tuberculosis (BCG)
Typhoid fever
Yellow fever (for individual protection)

Mandatory Vaccinations

Yellow fever (for protection of vulnerable countries)
Meningococcal meningitis (for Hajj, Umra)

You may also call the Utah Immunization Program Hotline at 1-800-275-0659 for additional questions or information.

If you are planning on traveling out of the country, make sure your immunization needs are assessed and your vaccinations completed in plenty of time to assure immunity. Most vaccines build immunity in approximately one week to ten days. However, immunizing against some diseases requires multiple vaccinations and may take six months or more to complete. Be sure to find out which vaccines you will need as soon as you know your travel plans. Remember that vaccine immunity may be the most important thing you bring with you!