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If you are traveling outside the United States – especially to a 3rd world country – it is likely that you will require some vaccines. While getting vaccinated is far from the most exciting part of trip planning, in some countries, it is necessary to prevent serious or even deadly illnesses. In this post, I have included guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help prepare you to get vaccinated before you travel.

Fun fact: one of my favorite parts of pharmacy school was learning to immunize! When I worked in retail, I gave numerous shots throughout the day to patients that would come into my store. Once I transitioned into hospital pharmacy and COVID hit, I was able to help give COVID shots as well. My favorite part about giving shots was helping patients feel at ease and calming those who were anxious!

Pro Tip: Vaccines aren’t the only medical necessity when it comes to traveling! Check out my other blog post, What to Pack in a Travel Medicine Bag, for suggestions on OTC drugs as well as other medical items that would be handy to have with you on a trip.

Getting Vaccinated Before You Travel

  1. Know the vaccines required for the country you are traveling to. Check out the link from the CDC below for more information.
  2. Plan on getting vaccinated at least a month before traveling – your body needs time to build up immunity. Keep in mind that some vaccines require more than 1 dose to be considered “fully immunized.”
  3. A lot of routine vaccinations can be given by your primary doctor, pharmacist, or local health department; however, these places usually don’t carry most vaccines needed for global travel.
  4. The International Society of Travel Medicine has a list of travel clinics around the world where you are able to receive vaccines for global travel, get post-travel medicine consultations, and more.
  5. The yellow fever vaccine MUST be administered 10 days before travel, and is only located at a limited number of clinics. Check out the CDC’s list of yellow fever vaccination clinics here, organized by state.


Travel Vaccine Information From the CDC

Four Tips to Make Vaccines Less Painful

  1. Relax your arm! The more tense your muscles, the more vaccines tend to hurt.
  2. After the person who will administer the vaccine preps your skin with an alcohol pad, ask them to dab it with a cotton swab or wait a few seconds for it to dry. The alcohol can make the sting of the needle worse. 
  3. Think of something you enjoy to take your mind off of getting poked with a needle. (I personally like to sing some 2000’s hip hop in my head…🤷🏼‍♀️)
  4. Remind yourself that the actual act of administering a vaccine takes 1-2 seconds. You’re a badass, and can do ANYTHING for 1-2 seconds. 😉

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