Country by country, what other vaccines are required of international travelers in addition to COVID-19

Dozens of countries still require certain vaccines for international travelers (REUTERS / Gaby Oraa)

With the advance of the Omicron variant, which in just weeks caused millions of coronavirus infections around the world, many countries began to take extreme measures for travelers. However, while at a global level the greatest concern persists in the advance of COVID-19, there are still certain diseases for which some nations require tourists to be vaccinated.

In times when there is still concern about the high rates of unvaccinated against the coronavirus, the World Health Organization (WHO) argues that immunization, no matter what disease, “It is a simple, safe and effective way to protect ourselves against harmful diseases before coming into contact with them.”

If we don’t get vaccinated, “we run the risk of contracting serious diseases such as measles, meningitis, pneumonia, tetanus and polio, many of which can be disabling and fatal.” According to WHO estimates, childhood vaccines save the lives of four million children each year.

There are dozens of diseases that a person can contract when traveling to another country. Among them stand out yellow fever, malaria, meningitis and polio. These conditions with which they cause the greatest number of restrictions by countries when traveling. And although in some cases they are only required whenever the visitor goes to a certain area of ​​the country, it is necessary to have the information before embarking on the trip.

In the case of yellow fever, the virus is endemic in tropical areas of Africa and Central and South America.


The great epidemics of this disease occur when the virus is introduced by infected people in highly populated areas, with a high density of mosquitoes and where the majority of the population has little or no immunity due to lack of vaccination, according to the WHO.

For this reason, “the countries that require proof of vaccination are those in which the disease may or may not appear and in which the mosquito vector and possible non-human primate hosts of yellow fever are present.”

Dozens of countries, mainly from Africa, Asia and Central Americarequire a yellow fever vaccination certificate for those travelers over a year old “arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission; those who have transited through countries with risk of yellow fever transmission; and for those who have transited for more than 12 hours through an airport in a country with risk of transmission” of the virus.

In Latin America, those that require a vaccination certificate are: Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Bonaire, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and São Tomé and Príncipe.

Cuba, for example, requires an immunization certificate from travelers from Angola, Brazil and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In some cases it is not mandatory to have a vaccination schedule, but it is recommended depending on the area or region visited.

Brazil is one of the Latin American countries most affected by yellow fever (AP)
Brazil is one of the Latin American countries most affected by yellow fever (AP)

In the case of Peru, WHO recommends vaccination against yellow fever for travelers over 9 months of age going to areas of the country that are below 2,300 meters of altitude: all regions of the Amazon, Loreto, Madre de Dios, San Martin, Ucayali, Puno and Cuzco, among others.

In contrast, immunization is not recommended for travelers whose itinerary is limited to other areas above 2,300 meters of altitude: areas west of the Andes, the cities of Cuzco and Lima, Machu Picchu, and the Inca Trail.

In Africa, vaccination is mandatory in countries such as Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Togo, Zambia and Zimbabwe, among others.

To travel to Asia, meanwhile, a vaccination certificate is required to enter China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

Poliomyelitis is another highly infectious viral disease, which mainly affects children under 5 years of age. Since the World Health Assembly approved a resolution in 1988 for its eradication, polio cases have decreased by more than 99% since then, going from about 350,000 in more than 125 endemic countries to just over 100 registered in the last years.

But there are still countries where it is a cause for concern, such as Syria, Brunei, India, and Iraq, that require a vaccine against this disease. In Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, it is not mandatory, but it is recommended.

Nigerian doctor Rilwanu Mohammed vaccinates a group of children against meningitis, in Dakwa (EFE/Deji Yake)
Nigerian doctor Rilwanu Mohammed vaccinates a group of children against meningitis, in Dakwa (EFE/Deji Yake)

For its part, meningitis is another highly transmitted disease that has high mortality rates and serious long-term sequelae. The WHO goal is to end bacterial meningitis by 2030.

Several vaccines protect against that disease. Between them, antimeningococcal, against Haemophilus influenzae type b and pneumococcal. At the same time, scientific authorities are working on the development of immunizations against other causes of meningitis.

According to WHO data, countries like Saudi Arabia, the Philippines, the Gambia, Indonesia and Libya require a meningitis vaccine.

While there are other diseases, such as cholera, which originated in India in the 19th century and later affected mainly Asia, Africa and the Americas, no country currently requires a vaccination certificate as a condition of entry.

With regard to smallpox, for its part, since its global eradication was certified in 1980, the WHO does not recommend smallpox vaccination for travelers.

Keep reading:

France approved the vaccination pass: those who are not immunized will not be able to access restaurants or trains
Slow progress and lucky accidents: this is how mRNA vaccines were made
Austria will impose mandatory COVID vaccination for those over 18 from February

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