Your immune system has built a tolerance to viruses and bacteria found at home, yet it is vulnerable to foreign strands, and can lead you to getting sick while traveling abroad. For that reason, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) devised a “vaccinations for travel” system.
By having your physician or other authorized medical professional fill out an International Certificate of Vaccination, you can show verification of compliance with recommended vaccination protocol. The majority of African countries request a completed CDC travel vaccines certificate at the point of entry:
Central African Republic
Democratic Republic of Congo
Republic of Congo
Sao Tome and Principe
Among the aforementioned list of countries, yellow fever is the most widespread risk. Fortunately, there is a vaccination that prevents the risk of contracting it. Other vaccinations would be for Hepatitis A, malaria and typhoid. Keep in mind that each country lists specific vaccines required for travel. If you are traveling to one of these countries, review both the CDC and the country’s embassy websites to get up-to-date shots.
A standard set of recommended vaccinations for foreign travel exists – also known as booster shots. These are recommended for everyone living in the US, because they prevent the most common form of diseases. Not to mention, these vaccines are excellent choices if you plan to travel abroad. They can be more common in foreign countries, or you could pick up diseases and carry them back to the US – infecting other unvaccinated individuals. This is a possibility even in areas you would not normally consider have travel-related illnesses.
Routine Vaccines for Travel
Depending on your age and the last time you received a vaccine, below is the list of recommended booster shots for adult and child travelers:
To be vaccinated, you must visit an authorized healthcare provider. Any doctor, physician’s assistant, nurse, nurse practitioner or pharmacist may give you a vaccine, medication or advice about how to prepare for your travels abroad. To allow enough time for the vaccines to take effect, you are recommended to schedule your appointment at least four to six weeks before.
It’s also advised that your physician completes an International Certificate of Vaccination in the event you are asked to present proof of your vaccinations. By documenting which immunizations for travel you receive, you also can keep track of when they are needed next.
In addition, double-check CDC travel immunizations when you plan to travel to more than one country. Be prepared at any point of entry, and in some countries, proof of vaccination is as critical as a travel visa. Read more on the Travel Visa page.