Planning and going on vacation is one of our great Canadian pastimes, but when travelling outside of Canada it’s important to remember you may be at risk of coming in contact with vaccine-preventable illnesses.
Safety, hygiene, and medical care standards in other countries may be different than what you’re used to in Canada, and some of these differences could seriously impact your health and your ability to seek medical help while travelling. This is true even for those travelers visiting friends and relatives (VFRs) in their native land. A Quebec study found that ~94% of typhoid fever and ~57% of hepatitis A cases were in travelers returning from visiting friends and relatives. But by doing some research before your trip, you can help protect yourself from many common and preventable travel-related infections.
Always plan ahead and leave enough time to visit a travel health professional before your departure. You should consult a travel health provider or visit a travel health clinic at least six weeks before you leave. Travel health services are available in most communities through your family doctor or travel health specialists. If you do not know where to find a travel health specialist, click here to find one near you.
Visiting a travel health provider or travel clinic is an opportunity to:
- Review your vaccination history
- Ensure your vaccinations are up to date per your province/territory standards
- Talk about any health questions or concerns you may have about your trip
- Assess your needs depending on when/where you plan to travel and the activities you plan to do
Depending on your age, immunization history, and the location you plan to visit, you may need to receive additional vaccinations. Please speak with your travel health provider to know what’s best for your trip.
Remember, if you need to travel with immunization records:
- Bring your original International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (leave a copy at home)
- Bring copies of your/your family’s immunization records (leave originals at home)
- Download the free CANImmunize app to keep track of your immunization history electronically. Visit www.canimmunize.ca to learn more about the CANImmunize app developed by Dr. Kumanan Wilson and his team at The Ottawa Hospital.
Before you leave, do your research and learn about any prominent health risks in the country or countries you plan to visit. And if you feel ill prior to your trip, consider postponing your departure date. Remember, your health and safety is up to you before, during, and after your trip.
Now enjoy your travels abroad!