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Shots for International Travel

Does my child need shots before travel?

Before travel, make sure your child is up to date on all routine shots. These include tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, and mumps. It is also good to have a flu shot if your child is traveling to a part of the world where it is flu season. Your child may also need a pneumococcal shot to protect against pneumococcal infection.

When traveling to foreign countries, your child may be exposed to other infections. Many of these illnesses can be prevented with vaccines or medicines. At least 2 months before travel, tell your healthcare provider where your child plans to travel. Some vaccines need to be started a month before your child leaves. Your provider will let you know what shots or medicines your child needs. This decision will be based on:

  • The places your child will visit
  • Your child’s age, medical history, and health
  • Your child’s exposure risk, for example, whether he will be in areas where there are mosquitoes

Also find out which countries require proof of vaccination before they will let your child visit.

What shots or medicines might my child need before travel?

More than a dozen vaccines are available to prevent diseases your child might be exposed to during travel to other parts of the world. Your child might need vaccines against:

  • Hepatitis A and B (If your child hasn’t already had these shots, your child may need to start getting them at least 6 months before travel.)
  • Chickenpox
  • Typhoid fever
  • Yellow fever
  • Meningitis
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Rabies

This is just a partial list. It depends on where your child is traveling and what outbreaks there are when your child travels.

If your child is going to a part of the world where malaria is common, such as Africa, Asia, or South America, your child may need to take medicine to prevent malaria. Malaria is a serious, sometimes fatal, disease spread by mosquito bites. Your healthcare provider may prescribe a medicine that your child will start taking up to 2 weeks before you leave. Your child will keep taking the medicine while traveling and up to 4 weeks after leaving the area.

How can I get up-to-date information?

Check with your healthcare provider or your local health department for information. You can get detailed, up-to-date travel advice for specific countries and diseases from:

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-08-01
Last reviewed: 2014-07-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
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