International Travel

International Travel – Consult A Travel Physician Before You Go


Canadians love to travel during the summer holidays, and especially love to travel to warm destinations to escape our harsh winters. However – beware, even a short getaway to the Caribbean or Mexico can bring with it the risk of serious illnesses.

Travel clinics are staffed with specialists in travel health. They have current information on which vaccines are required or recommended for people travelling to various destinations as well as information on the most up-to-date medications for travellers. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that you scheduled a visit to a travel medicine provider 4 to 6 weeks before your trip. Most vaccines take time to become effective in your body and some vaccines must be given in a series over a period of days or sometimes weeks. Even if you’ve had vaccinations when you’ve travelled before, you will still benefit from a visit to a travel clinic, as the recommendations may have changed or you may need a booster for a vaccine you already have been given.

If it is less than 4 weeks before you leave, you should still see your doctor. You might still benefit from shots or medications and other information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while traveling.

When you visit a travel clinic, be sure to bring any medical records and travel forms you have so that you can discuss:

  • your previous immunizations
  • your medical history, allergies, and current medications
  • your current health issues and infections
  • your travel plans (bring your travel itinerary) and lifestyle

You may need to get the following vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable diseases and other diseases you might be at risk for at your destination. Your physician will determine what you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, and planned activities.

Routine vaccines (usually as part of your immunization schedule):

  • Hepatitis B
  • Haemophilus influenzae B (meningitis)
  • HPV (human papillomavirus)
  • Meningococcal
  • Measles, mumps and rubella
  • Pertussis (whopping cough)
  • Poliomyelitis
  • Tetanus and diphtheria
  • Pneumococcal
  • Varicella (chicken pox)

Recommended vaccines (some are required for entry into country):

  • Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG; for tuberculosis)
  • European tick-borne encephalitis
  • Cholera
  • Hepatitis A
  • Influenza
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Meningococcal
  • Rabies
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow fever

Not all vaccines are 100% effective in protecting you. Also keep in mind that health problems you may encounter while travelling are not always prevented by vaccines. For example, travellers should still take proper food and water precautions.