Safe travels: consider updating vaccines as part of your vacation planning

March 22, 2024
Dr. Kathryn Turner, Division of Public Health

As the weather warms and vacations are around the corner, it’s a great time to start planning for any travel you hope to do this summer. Part of your planning should include evaluating whether any special vaccines would help keep you healthy, or whether bringing yourself and your family up to date on routine vaccines is needed.

While most of us think additional vaccines might be important if traveling far overseas, it’s important to check out any health risks at your destination ahead of time, even those nearer to you. For example, there is an outbreak of measles in Chicago at present. Checking to be sure you and your family are up to date on measles and other vaccinations before traveling can prevent the risk of contracting this very contagious illness. 

The ideal time to get vaccines before travel is usually at least a month before you leave. That gives your body time to build immunity before your travel starts. However, even if you’ve left it to the last minute, you can still benefit from vaccines.

As you’ll read below, immunization can help protect from a variety of illnesses

Vaccine recommendations for adults

Depending upon your age, adult routine vaccinations should be up to date to help protect you from becoming sick during your vacation or when you return. You can see the recommended vaccines for your age on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) Adult Immunization Schedule

If you are traveling within the United States, being up to date with routine immunizations such as hepatitis A, influenza, and Tdap, should be enough to help your immune system protect you. You might need other vaccines if you are traveling internationally. (More about international travel below.)

Vaccine recommendations for children

Before you go on any trip, your children should be up to date on their routine immunizations. The CDC’s recommended childhood immunization schedule is effective and is why we don’t see as many of these diseases in the U.S. today as we did 100 years ago. 

However, outbreaks still occur. There is currently an increase in global and U.S. measles cases. There have been 58 cases reported in 17 areas of the U.S. so far this year. In some cases, routine childhood vaccination schedules may need to be adjusted to provide extra protection for travel. 

International travel vaccine recommendations

Traveling internationally exposes us to new adventures but can also expose us to unfamiliar diseases or diseases not covered by routine vaccines at home. 

Travel vaccines are a key part of preparation for travel to certain countries or regions. Pre-travel immunizations at a travel clinic can protect you and your children while you’re abroad, keeping everyone safe and happy as you explore. Travel clinics can also provide other helpful advice in how to stay healthy while you travel.

Children have a similar risk as adults, but for international travel, different routine vaccination recommendations sometimes apply to children. For instance, the vaccine for measles is usually not started until babies are at least 1 year of age. However, if they are travelling internationally, the recommendation is that babies 6-11 months of age should get one dose of MMR before departure. Among the 58 U.S. measles cases reported in 2024, nearly all were linked to international travel. Last year, a measles outbreak in Idaho was associated with international travel. 

Recommended or required vaccines for travel depend on the destination. In some cases, recommended vaccines are based on specific health risks. Start by checking the CDC’s travel vaccination website to see what vaccines are required for any country you plan to visit, and follow up with a visit to your healthcare provider, or a travel clinic or travel medicine specialist. 

Dr. Kathryn Turner is deputy state epidemiologist in the Division of Public Health.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at

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