How Do Travel Vaccines Work?

Reviewed on 12/27/2021

How do travel vaccines work?

Travel vaccines are vaccines administered to protect against certain bacterial and viral infections for travelers to places with endemic infectious diseases. Vaccines stimulate the immune system to produce antibodies against specific types of bacteria and viruses from which the vaccines are derived.

Travel vaccines include both viral and bacterial vaccines which may be live or inactivated. Live vaccines are weakened forms of the actual viruses or bacteria and provide strong and often life-long immunity similar to a natural infection, but may not be safe for persons with compromised immune systems.

Inactivated vaccines are made from proteins or fragments of the disease-causing germs, but killed to prevent replication. Inactivated vaccines contain the bacterial or viral antigen which stimulates the production of antibodies without the risk of the disease itself, but may not produce as strong immunity as live vaccines do.

Travel vaccines protect against the following infectious diseases:


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How are travel vaccines used?

Travel vaccines may be administered as prophylaxis before traveling to disease-endemic areas as:

The FDA-approved travel vaccines include the following:

  • Hepatitis A inactivated viral vaccine for adults and children
  • Hepatitis A and B inactivated viral vaccine for adults
  • Meningococcal A, C, Y, and W-135 inactivated bacterial vaccine for 2 years and older individuals
  • Poliovirus inactivated viral vaccine for adults and children
  • Rabies inactivated viral vaccine for adults and children
  • Typhoid fever live bacterial vaccine for adults and children
  • Yellow fever live bacterial vaccine for adults and children

What are side effects of travel vaccines?

Side effects of travel vaccines may include the following:

Information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with travel medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.

What are names of travel vaccines?

Generic and brand names of travel vaccines include:


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