A very important issue for all international travelers is to make sure their basic vaccines are up to date. This includes a tetanus vaccine within the last ten years, two MMR vaccines, two chickenpox vaccines or a clear memory of the illness, and a series of at least three polio vaccines. Depending on which country the traveler is visiting and during which time of year, a polio booster or the flu vaccine may be necessary as well. The flu season is different in different countries.
Additional recommended vaccines for international travelers might include the hepatitis A vaccine, if traveling in developing countries, and the meningococcal vaccine for certain equatorial African countries. The meningococcal vaccine has also been required by the government of Saudi Arabia for pilgrims traveling to Mecca in order to prevent a recurrence of the meningitis epidemic that occurred in the 1980s. If the traveler is likely to be exposed to human blood products, then the hepatitis B vaccine is recommended. Certain travelers with exposure to animals, especially spelunkers with exposure to bats, should receive the rabies vaccine.
Other common vaccines for travelers include the typhoid vaccine and the yellow fever vaccine.
Uncommon vaccines for travelers would include the Japanese encephalitis vaccine and the tuberculosis or BCG vaccine. A complete list of recommendations for travel to various countries in the world can be found in the Traveler’s Health section of the CDC’s website, at www.cdc.gov.