The CDC website is a good place to start; however, the amount of information can be overwhelming and sometimes vague or conflicting. If your primary care office has its own travel medicine department, call them first and see what they recommend. In some cases (like mine) you may end up needing additional vaccines or prescriptions, so having an appointment or consultation is best in person so the doctor can order everything you need at the time of your visit. If your primary care office does not have a travel medicine department, call around and find a clinic covered by insurance in your area, as consultations and vaccines can be pricey if not covered.
Keep in mind that some vaccines can take up to six weeks to be active, so you will need to make your visit well in advance (something I will make note of for my next trip). Also, some vaccines cannot be given at the same time, or need to be given in doses, so it’s extra important to give yourself plenty of time in advance for the necessary vaccinations.
What to Bring With You to a Travel Clinic
A copy of your itinerary or at least a list of places you are going to as well as an updated immunization list if you are visiting a clinic outside of your primary care office. Also make sure to notify the clinic of any allergies, especially to medications.
What to Expect at a Travel Clinic
My visit was short and sweet. I got all of the information (and more) that I needed. My two shots were administered at the time of my visit and I filled out a card to keep with my passport verifying I had the yellow fever immunization.
Can I Get a COVID-19 Test at a Travel Clinic?
The answer is: it depends. Certain locations, such as PassportHealth in the Boston area, are offering COVID testing but not every clinic will provide this service. You can filter your search on the International Society of Travel Medicine’s website for clinics that will perform and document the necessary COVID tests for travel or any other specific services you require. To make an appointment to get a COVID-19 vaccine before your next trip, you can use the Vaccine Finder tool linked from the CDC’s website to find a location near you.
Preparing for Your Trip
In addition to any prescriptions needed, this basic list for health and safety comes in handy for international travel:
Antihistamines: Benadryl, Zyrtec, or Claritin
Pain/Fever Relief: Asprin, Ibuprofen, or Tylenol
Insect Repellent: 30 percent DEET spray, and permethrin clothing spray
Anti-Diarrhea and Rehydration: Loperamide, Pepto Bismol, Pedialyte powder packets, Gatorade powder packets
Motion Sickness: Meclizine
Other Supplies: Hydrocortisone cream, flight compression socks, digital thermometer, bed net for mosquitos