Before you travel

Date last reviewed: 
Thursday, Mar 16, 2023

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When travelling internationally, it's important to get all the recommended and required vaccines for the countries your family plans to visit. 

Planning ahead

Talk to your health care provider or visit a travel clinic at least 6 to 8 weeks before you travel. This is important because some vaccines may take several weeks to become fully effective, and others may require more than 1 dose.

If you leave on short notice, talking to your health care provider or visiting a travel clinic is still important. Some vaccines that require more than 1 dose, like the hepatitis A vaccine, can still give you partial protection after just 1 dose. Some vaccines can also be given on an accelerated schedule (this means the doses are given over a shorter period).

A woman sitting on a plane with a school-age girl on her lap reading a book.

Vaccines for travel

Routine vaccines

No matter where you travel, ensuring your family is up to date on all routine vaccines is important. Many diseases prevented by routine vaccines, such as measles and polio, are no longer common in Canada but are still common in other countries.

It may be recommended that your child receives routine vaccines on a different schedule with travelling. For example, an infant may need to get certain vaccines early.

Recommended travel vaccines 

Additional vaccines may be recommended for your family depending on the following: 

  • Your travel destination.
  • The age of your family members. 
  • The risk of disease in the country or countries you are visiting.
  • The length of your trip.
  • The nature of the travel (for example, if you will stay in urban or remote areas).
  • The activities you have planned while traveling.

Here are some examples of vaccines that may be recommended for travel to certain countries:

Required travel vaccines

Some countries require proof of receiving certain vaccines before entering the country. These requirements vary by country. For example:

Your health care provider or a doctor, nurse, or pharmacist at a travel clinic can tell you what vaccines your family needs. You can also search for vaccines recommended by travel destinations on Health Canada's website.

Where to get travel vaccines

Travel vaccines are available from travel clinics, most pharmacies, and some doctors’ offices. You must go to a designated yellow fever vaccination centre for the yellow fever vaccine. There is a charge for most travel vaccines.