Travel Safely: Get Immunized
Prevention and Treatment Increased rates of several vaccine-preventable infectious diseases have made the news and travel advisories in the past year.
Planning a trip?
When you set out on your travels, your biggest concern should be planning how to enjoy yourself when you reach your destination. The last thing you want to worry about is catching an infectious disease — both while you’re away from home and after you return.
Knowing that you and your family have the right vaccinations can help ensure that you return just as healthy as you left.
Your vaccination needs will be determined by destination, what activities you have planned, your age, health status, and your immunization history.1
Don’t assume that contagious diseases considered to be relatively rare can’t make a comeback and infect people in greater numbers. In fact, increased rates of several vaccine-preventable infectious diseases, including measles, polio, and tuberculosis (TB) have made the news and travel advisories in the past year.2 Confirm that your family’s vaccinations are up to date, and get any recommended booster doses you need.
What vaccines might be needed if…?
- …I am travelling to a destination outside of North America.
Widespread vaccination programs have made several communicable diseases quite rare in Canada. Some of these, such as diphtheria, polio, measles, and rubella may occur at much higher rates in countries where vaccination is not widely adopted.2
Some countries require proof that you have received a yellow fever and/or meningococcal vaccination, so be sure to check the requirements for your destination4 as there has been an increased risk of contracting these illness in some regions.
- …I am staying at rustic lodgings that are off the beaten track.
People travelling to rural areas or places with inadequate sanitary facilities should consider vaccination against hepatitis A (HA), which is recommended for all travellers to developing countries. An oral vaccine against cholera and travellers’ diarrhea is also available for those at risk, such as people with chronic illnesses for whom there is an increased risk of serious consequences from travellers’ diarrhea.5
Every traveller should also be fully vaccinated against tetanus especially because exposure to the spores can occur with any form of injury in which the skin is broken, from a simple cut to a car accident.4
- …I am attending a large event or visiting tourist attractions that will gather crowds.
You may be at greater risk of catching illnesses that are transmitted by airborne germs including measles, mumps, meningitis, diphtheria and pertussis (whooping cough), in large gatherings of people.4
- …I am travelling with a young child.
Children are at higher risk of infection with meningococcal disease, hepatitis A, typhoid, and rabies. Primary vaccinations can be given on an accelerated schedule to infants before they travel, and the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine may be started at six weeks of age. The oral rotavirus vaccine can be given at the same time. Children travelling outside of North America should also be given their first dose of measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR) if they have not yet received it.6
For destination-specific suggested and mandatory vaccines, visit https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/vaccines.
This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
- Government of Canada. Well on Your Way - A Canadian’s Guide to Healthy Travel Abroad. http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/publications/well-on-your-way
- Government of Canada. Travel Related Diseases.
- Government of Canada. Hepatitis B. https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/health-safety/diseases/hepatitis-b
- World Health Organization (WHO): CHAPTER 6. Vaccine-preventable diseases and vaccines.
- Canada Communicable Disease Report 2005: Volume 31 > Statement on New Oral Cholera and Travellers’ Diarrhea Vaccination.
- Public Health Agency of Canada. Canadian Immunization Guide, Part 3: Vaccination of Specific Populations.