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Preparing for a vacation? Get your travel vaccines before you go

Family with a suitcase on an airport


Find passport: ✓
Book flight and hotel: ✓
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Update travel vaccines: 🚫

With winter’s seemingly endless days of darkness and sub-zero temperatures, we’re all tempted to click that “BOOK NOW!” button for a getaway to anywhere but here. Before flocking towards sunnier shores, though, are you sure your travel vaccines are up to date? If the answer is no, consider adding immunizations to the top of your to-do list: outbreaks at home are often tied to people who have been exposed to illnesses overseas.

Adequate immunization prior to travelling abroad means you don’t have to worry about coming home with more than you bargained for. Take the necessary precautions while you’re away with these common travel vaccines.

Flu, RSV & COVID vaccines

You’ll be spending hours in a full plane of travellers which recycles the same air during the whole flight. While most travel safety requirements like mandatory mask-wearing, proof of coronavirus immunization, and pre-boarding testing have been lifted, it’s still possible that your seat neighbour discreetly coughing into their elbow is fighting off more than just a common cold.1 After all, colder weather opens the door to a plethora of different respiratory viruses.

Similarly to the COVID-19 vaccine, influenza immunization is critical armour before heading into enclosed places or densely-populated milieus. The flu circulates year-round in temperate or warmer climates, so travellers are never truly out of the clear, especially without the immunity provided via vaccines.2 And if you’re travelling with infants, small children and adults over 60, add respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) immunization to your list, too. RSV is a common virus around the world and if contracted and left untreated can lead to hospitalization in serious cases, so people at risk are recommended to get vaccinated before they start packing their bags.3

Make sure you have immunity on your side so you don’t kick off your getaway with severe flu symptoms that leave you bedbound at a resort in paradise. Kill three birds with one stone! Experts have even reassured those interested that it is perfectly safe to get all three immunizations at the same time if need be.4

Hepatitis A & B

Hepatitis A is a liver disease typically contracted through contaminated uncooked foods and water conditions that differ from what your body is used to.5 Hepatitis B can be contracted through infected body fluids – whether this entails a steamy winter fling while you’re away, or you need stitches in a medical environment with different hygiene standards than the ones you’re used to back home.6 Immunizations available for Hepatitis A and B are typically long-term solutions and don’t require frequent updates.

Traveller’s diarrhea

Enterotoxigenic E. coli is the most prevalent cause of traveller’s diarrhea across the world.7 You’re subjecting your gastrointestinal system to contaminated foods or water that can upset your stomach. Immunization is an easy win for eager travellers to indulge in new foods and flavours and avoid spending full days under artificial lighting desperately clutching a porcelain throne.


Tetanus bacteria enter the body via a wound and can affect the nervous system if left untreated, so think long and hard before you waltz spontaneously into that foreign tattoo shop!8 Make sure this routine vaccine is up to date, especially when travelling to remote regions where medical establishments are far away if you have wounds that need attention. The good news? These immunizations will last around 10 years before needing to update them again!

Travel with peace of mind

If you’re still unsure which immunizations you’ll need, give yourself somewhere between four to six weeks to consult with your healthcare provider and to allow the vaccines to take effect.9 Research the health risks you might encounter at your destination and make sure you get the required immunizations within a reasonable timeframe for them to kick in before departure.

What to know before you go:

Brought to you by Vaccines411.ca - know where to go for your vaccinations.

This information should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your doctor. There may be variations in treatment that your physician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.

Read more Vaccines411® Articles

Last updated: November 2023.


Note: the hyperlinks that direct to other sites are not continuously updated. It is possible that some links become untraceable over time. Thank you.

  1. COVID-19: Travel, testing and borders:
  2. Foreign travel plans? What to know about influenza before you go.
  3. Respiratory infectious diseases: How to reduce the spread with personal protective measures.
  4. What to Know About Getting Flu, COVID-19, and RSV Vaccines at the Same Time.
  5. Hepatitis A Questions and Answers for the Public.
  6. Hepatitis B.
  7. Help spend your vacation where you want and not in the bathroom.
  8. Tetanus vaccination.
  9. Immunization of travellers: Canadian Immunization Guide.