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International Travel and COVID-19: What You Need to Know Before You Go

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Travelling overseas may be one of the most exciting experiences of your life. From getting to see new sights and enjoy new cultures, to experiencing different foods and learning about other ways of life, travelling abroad offers so many opportunities to learn and grow as an individual—and it’s something that anyone who loves exploring should experience at least once in their lifetime. However, before you book that ticket or hop on that plane, there are some things you need to know about international travel and the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) annual routine vaccine recommendations, known as CDC’s COVID-19 (2015).

Do I need an international vaccination if I travel outside the country?

If you travel outside the United States, your doctor will likely recommend some vaccines for you. And if you’re heading overseas for any reason, be sure to go back in time before the trip (ideally at least 4 weeks) to get any additional doses of required vaccines. International travel vaccinations are different from country to country, so it’s important that your physician understands where you’re going and how long you plan on staying. Some countries require proof of vaccination against certain diseases, such as yellow fever or hepatitis A and B. The CDC recommends checking with your doctor before leaving to ensure you have all recommended vaccines and medications. Check out CDC’s list of recommended vaccinations by destination , including a map showing which countries require them (green), recommended but not required (yellow), or not recommended/required because they aren’t necessary or may cause more harm than good (red). The recommendations also include when each vaccine should be given – often a series is needed over a period of several months leading up to departure date. Be sure to let your doctor know if you’ll be travelling during pregnancy! Some vaccines are safe during pregnancy while others aren’t, depending on what they contain.

How do I find out if my vaccinations are up to date?

When you go to your doctor, there are three ways to find out if your vaccinations are up to date. First, check with your doctor. They should have a system in place for making sure patients get their shots on time. Second, check with your healthcare provider or employer if you’re an HCP (healthcare professional). Third, look online.

Additional Vaccines Recommended for Travel Outside Canada

Although not a legal requirement, certain countries will expect you to be up-to-date on these vaccines when travelling. It is recommended you speak with your health care provider regarding your specific travel plans so they can determine which additional vaccinations are necessary for travel.

Do I need any special health checks before going on vacation?

A special health check is not required for travel within Canada. However, some vaccinations are recommended if you’re travelling abroad, particularly those who may be at risk of getting sick due to things like age or pre-existing conditions (e.g., asthma, diabetes). It’s also a good idea to make sure your routine vaccinations are up-to-date before travelling. For example, it’s recommended that travellers over 60 years old get vaccinated against hepatitis A and B; typhoid; measles, mumps and rubella; polio; tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis (Tdap); meningococcal disease; influenza (flu); human papillomavirus (HPV) in females between 9–26 years old; chickenpox (varicella) in people who have never had chickenpox or received two doses of varicella vaccine. Other vaccines might be recommended depending on where you plan to go—check with your doctor or nurse for more information about which ones apply to you.

Where can I find more information about vaccines?

Are you planning a trip outside of Canada? That’s awesome! Be sure to check out our travel tips section, which has information about travel vaccines and diseases you can pick up when you’re abroad. Learn more about travel health recommendations for Canadians. If your health care provider is recommending certain vaccines, please make sure that you’ve discussed which ones are required for your specific destination with them before travelling. Are you moving? Do I need any additional doses?: Some travellers may require additional doses of vaccine based on their age or medical history. For example, people over 65 years old who will be spending six months or longer in high-risk areas should receive an extra dose of diphtheria–tetanus–pertussis (DTP) vaccine. Travellers who have had previous immunizations against measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) but have not had one within three years should also receive an extra dose before leaving Canada. This is especially important if they will be visiting countries where there are ongoing outbreaks of these diseases.

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