Why Travelers Skip Recommended Travel Vaccines – And Why You Shouldn’t

Traveling outside the United States exposes adults and children to illnesses not regularly found in this country. For that reason, most doctors and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that patients receive destination-specific vaccines before leaving the United States. So why do many travelers skip recommended travel vaccines?

There are several reasons, and two recent studies offer data on the subject. According to a study published in the Journal of Travel Medicine, about 97 percent of people who received a pre-travel health consultation in the study group were eligible for one or more vaccines. However, 28 percent of those eligible people refused one or more vaccines, including vaccines for meningococcal meningitis, rabies and influenza. The reasons why included:

  • Cost Concerns. According to the study in the Journal of Travel Medicine, people in the study group said they were unwilling to pay the high costs of some vaccines, such as the vaccine for Japanese encephalitis that is recommended for people traveling to rural parts of Asia.
  • Safety Concerns. For example, about 25 percent of people who refused the yellow fever vaccine said they did so because of concerns about its safety.
  • Timing Concerns. In some cases, people refused vaccines because they did not have time to complete a vaccine series or develop full immunity before leaving the United States.
  • A Lack of Concern about an Illness. A study published earlier this year in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that 50 percent of international travelers from the United States skip a recommended MMR vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella before going overseas. Three-quarters of the group that skipped the vaccine said they weren’t worried about contracting measles. The researchers concluded that both doctors and travelers need more information about the importance for pre-travel MMR vaccines, as most measles outbreaks reported in the United States are related to travelers who contracted the illness overseas and spread it to unvaccinated people on their return.
  • Type of Travel. VFR travelers – those visiting friend and relatives – and travelers planning on staying more than 28 days were more likely to refuse vaccines, although other studies have identified these groups as being at greater risk for travel-related illnesses such as hepatitis, rabies and typhoid.

 Identifying an Air Medical Transport Services Provider

Vaccines prevent the spread of diseases, and are especially important for people who travel to countries where illnesses such as measles and hepatitis A are a greater concern than in most areas of the United States. Pre-travel vaccinations not only protect individual travelers but help prevent the spread of diseases to unvaccinated or under-vaccinated children and adults, including pregnant women, in the United States.

A doctor at a travel clinic can help travelers determine which vaccines are specifically recommended for the country or region they will be visiting, as well as recommend immunizations such as for tetanus and influenza that should always be current.

Before leaving on international or long-distance trips, travelers should also take a few minutes to research medical transport services providers, such as SentinelMED. Such information could be life-saving in the event of a medical emergency.

As a medical transport services provider, SentinelMED provides medical transport, medical repatriation, and medical escort services to help sick or elderly patients navigate the complexities of long-distance travel.

SentinelMED’s team of qualified logistics and medical professionals works with patients, their family members, and medical facilities to determine the service and level of care that are most appropriate for a patient’s medical condition, destination, and language or cultural needs.

The SentinelMED team understands the complexity of delivering exceptional care to patients who need assistance during travel. Please contact us to learn more about the services that SentinelMED offers or its staff.


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