When traveling abroad, make sure you have the correct vaccinationsGoing abroad? You may need vaccinations if you are traveleing outside the U.S. It’s a good idea to call for an appointment as you plan your trip, since some vaccines must be given in several doses at least a week or more before you travel. Travel shots are not usually covered by insurance.

You can get up to date information on the health conditions and recommended vaccinations for each country by visiting the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) Web site or by calling their Information line at 1(800) 232-4636.

The CDC divides travel vaccinations into three categories: routine, recommended, and required. The only vaccine classified as "required" by International Health Regulations is the yellow fever vaccination for travel to certain countries in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America. The CDC's yellow fever vaccination web page can search for a clinic near you by using your zip code or choosing your state from the map.

  • "Routine" vaccinations are those that are normally administered, usually during childhood, in the United States.
  • "Recommended" vaccinations are given to protect travelers from illnesses that occur routinely in other parts of the world. Doctors determine which vaccines are recommended for international travel on an individual basis, taking into consideration your destination, whether you will be spending time in rural areas, the season of the year you are traveling, your age, your overall health status, and your immunization history. The CDC lists travel-specific vaccination requirements for individual countries on their Web site.