Most important vaccines to have when planning to travel around the world

Updated: Jul 4, 2019

There is no better way than vaccines to protect oneself from contracting severe infectious diseases. Most people are vaccinated for childhood infection and other infections prevalent in his or her native region. However, things differ when traveling, as there is a high risk of exposure to uncommon infectious conditions.

Most people are vaccinated for diseases prevalent globally like diphtheria, hepatitis B, Hemophilus influenza type b, human papillomavirus, seasonal influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, tetanus, tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, rubella, rotavirus., varicella, pneumococcal disease.

Above mentioned vaccines are regarded as essential in most nations. Nonetheless, before traveling, it is necessary to make sure that the person has been vaccinated for all these disease conditions.

Another critical thing to keep in mind is that many adults will need booster doses. Some of the vaccines may lose their protection over time. Generally, a booster dose is required 10 years since the last vaccination.

Finally, consider the vaccines according to the region you are planning to visit like cholera, hepatitis A, Japanese encephalitis, Meningococcal disease, rabies, tick-borne encephalitis, typhoid fever, yellow fever.

North America

It is one of the safer regions to travel, most childhood vaccines are enough, and there are no special recommendations for the country. Nonetheless, it is a good idea to consider some of the vaccines for additional protection like measles (booster dose), or if you are unsure about your vaccination status better get vaccinated with MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, rubella). Hepatitis A, B, and rotavirus vaccines are also recommended.

One should also keep track of seasonal outbreaks of influenza, meningococcal disease, and prevalence of pneumonia in the region one is planning to visit. For all these conditions, vaccines are available.

South America

Southern American continents have its peculiarities, and many tropical infections are widely prevalent there. As in any case, first ensure that you had all the essential vaccines like MMR, polio, tetanus, diphtheria.

Other vaccines that are highly recommended are hepatitis A, typhoid, and yellow fever. Additionally, consider rabies and meningococcal vaccines too. The rabies vaccine is only needed if you think that you may encounter animals.

Infections like Zika virus, malaria, and dengue are common in Latin America, and regretfully at present, there are no vaccines for these conditions, or even if the vaccine is available, it may not protect in all the cases. Most vaccines are still in the experimental stage. Since these conditions occur due to a mosquito bite, protection from it is the only solution.


One of the safest regions to visit and has a low risk of contracting any infectious disease. Due to the high level of vaccination, improved socio-economic status, many diseases have been eradicated from the continent. Nonetheless, the risk of infectious diseases is higher in Eastern part of Europe.

Essential vaccines like against measles, mumps, tetanus, pertussis, diphtheria, will provide enough protection. However, in recent times some parts of Europe are witnessing a resurgence of measles. Further, the risk of tuberculosis, hepatitis A & B may be high in some regions. Rabies is also present in a few nations.

When visiting Europe, pay special attention to the seasonal outbreak of influence and get vaccinated accordingly.

Tick-borne diseases is another health risk when visiting Europe, especially when visiting national parks during the spring season. Thus, consider Tick-borne encephalitis vaccine.


When traveling to Asia, remember that it has many similarities to Latin America. Most tropical and subtropical nations of Asia, especially South Asia, and South East Asia can be regarded as high-risk zones for contracting tropical infections. Thus, ensure that you have been vaccinated for most common ailments. Get booster dose for diphtheria, tetanus (every 10 years), booster dose for hepatitis A (every 20 years). Ensure that you had been vaccinated against hepatitis B, polio, typhoid, varicella, Japanese encephalitis, meningococcal infection, rabies, yellow fever.

Zika is uncommon in these regions, but other mosquito-borne diseases like chikungunya, malaria, dengue is quite common. Since vaccines against these and many such infections do not exist, take extra cautions.


Africa is a vast continent, with different threats to health in different areas. Generally, risk of various infections is regarded quite high in the continent except for Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, make sure that you had all the routine vaccines like MMR, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, varicella, polio. Rabies is also common in certain areas of Africa.

Most travelers are also recommended to get vaccinated with hepatitis A and typhoid vaccine. Yellow fever risk is high only in some parts of Africa. Hepatitis B is only recommended if you plan to have sexual contact with a new partner, piercing, getting a tattoo.

Further, take precautions against insect and mosquito bites. In many parts of Africa, apart from malaria, many rare parasitic diseases (like schistosomiasis) are rampant. Further, it should be remembered that in some African nations, the availability of medical drugs is also an issue.


Spans from Indonesia to Australia, with varied climate zones. Some areas are high risk with a tropical climate and another low risk like continental Australia. Apart from routine vaccinations, get vaccinated against rabies, typhoid, hepatitis A, Japanese encephalitis. Risk of getting infected with mosquito-borne diseases like malaria, dengue, and chikungunya is moderately high in these regions.


It is one of the safest of continents from the point of view of catching an infection. Due to the cold climate, the environment is quite sterile, and even insects rarely carry diseases that may harm humans. Nonetheless, one should ensure to get vaccinated with all the routine vaccines, as medical facilities are barely available there and even minor illness may put lives at risk. Further, one may get vaccinated for infections like shingles, pneumonia, influenza. Hepatitis A and B vaccines may also be considered.

The world is a big place, and going to different places is a great experience. And vaccinations can ensure that you only return form these places with right kind of experiences. In recent years, due to anti-vaccination campaigns, risk of certain diseases has grown even in the developed nations.

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