If you plan to travel abroad or internationally it's possible that your children — and you — will need additional vaccinations. Different countries have different health risks and may require specific vaccines. For example, your family will need the yellow fever vaccine if you're traveling to sub-Saharan Africa or tropical South America.
To find out which vaccines your family needs, ask your doctor or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for a list of recommended or required vaccinations (the site includes a section devoted to travelers' health that you can search by destination).
Most immunizations should be given at least 1 month before travel, so try to schedule a doctor's visit 4-6 weeks before your trip. This gives plenty of time for the vaccines to take effect, and allows for vaccines to be given over a period of days or weeks, if necessary. But even if you're leaving in less than 4 weeks, you should still make an appointment, as kids might still benefit from shots or medications.
Depending on your travel plans, your doctor may recommend that in addition to routine immunizations, you and/or your kids be vaccinated against:
Although all kids get the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine at 12-15 months of age, any who will travel outside the United States before that should get the vaccine as early as 6 months of age.
Kids of any age can get malaria, so if you're traveling to a country with a malaria risk, talk to your doctor about antimalarial drugs. The doctor will decide the best preventive medication based on your destination and your kids' health status.
And if you're traveling internationally, be sure to take your kids' immunization records with you when you go.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: February 2015
|Immunization Action Coalition This organization is a source of childhood, adolescent, and adult immunization information as well as hepatitis B educational materials.|
|CDC: Pre-teen and Teen Vaccines CDC site provides materials in English and Spanish for parents, teens, pre-teens, and health care providers about vaccines and the diseases they prevent.|
|CDC: Travelers' Health Look up vaccination requirements for travel destinations, get updates on international outbreaks, and more, searachable by country.|
|The History of Vaccines The History of Vaccines is an informational, educational website created by The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the oldest professional society in the United States.|
|Studying Abroad Do you dream of traveling to cool places, meeting interesting people, and maybe picking up a language or two? Learn about the benefits of study abroad programs.|
|Word! Immunizations This is the long word for what most kids know as shots.|
|Staying Healthy While You Travel When you're traveling with your kids, there's a chance that someone might get sick. But early planning and smart packing can help ensure your family stays healthy and safe.|
|Travel Tips It's always important to take care of your health, particularly when you're traveling. Our article will give you tips for keeping your travel experience as healthy as possible.|
|Immunization Schedule Which vaccines does your child need to receive and when? Use this immunization schedule as a handy reference.|
|Your Child's Immunizations Immunizations protect your child from potentially fatal diseases. Find out what vaccines your child needs to grow up healthy.|
|Immunizations Missing out on shots puts you at more serious risk than you might think. That one little "ouch" moment protects you from some major health problems.|
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