Vaccinations Before Traveling Abroad

Are you planning international travel?
Diseases are only a plane ride away – Enjoy your trip by not getting sick!traveler

Plane tickets – check!
Hotel reservations – check!
Vaccinations . . . wait, what??

International travel takes on many forms; including tourism, business, study abroad, research, visiting friends and relatives, leading a group, ecotourism, adventure, medical tourism, mission work and responding to international disasters. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, international airlines connect approximately 40,000 global cities and carry about 3 billion total passengers per year, and about 100 million passengers flew from the United States to overseas destinations during 2015.

With global travel, comes an increased risk of exposure to several diseases that are still common around the world; such as measles, yellow fever, typhoid, hepatitis and many more. Be sure you’re protected before traveling by being vaccinated to help prevent sickness and health complications. Whether you’re a first-time or seasoned traveler, get the recommended vaccines four to six weeks before your departure date. Vaccinations and hand washing are your best defense against sicknesses!


The Ottawa County Department of Public Health’s Travel Clinic can help ensure your best chances for good health while traveling. During a travel clinic visit, a public health nurse will review your trip itinerary and your medical history. You will receive the most current information specific to your trip from professional travel authorities such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. We will recommend and administer travel vaccines, based on your medical history and the anticipated risk of exposure during your travels.

We will also provide information about your destination for:

• common health hazards you may encounter on your trip
• insect and water-borne illnesses
• other non-vaccine-preventable infections
• recent infectious outbreaks in the area
• health care standards and health care availability
• safety and security alerts
• general advice on how to remain healthy while traveling

Schedule your travel clinic appointment four to six weeks before your departure date. The office visit fee is $80 and vaccines are additional. Call (616) 396-5266 to make a travel clinic appointment.

Travelers’ diarrhea (TD) is the most predictable travel-related illness. Approximately 30% to 70% of travelers will get TD, depending on the destination and season of travel. Traditionally, it was thought that TD could be prevented by following simple recommendations such as “boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it,” but studies have found that people who follow these rules may still become ill. Poor hygiene practice in local restaurants is likely the largest contributor to the risk for TD.


Be sure to download the CDC’s TravWell app before or after your travel clinic visit. In addition to the information and vaccines from a public health nurse, you can create a customizable healthy travel packing list, store your travel documents and keep a record of your medications and immunizations.