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Getting a travel vaccine isn’t always cheap or convenient, but it’s important (and sometimes mandatory!) if you’re traveling to certain parts of the world. How much do vaccines cost? Usually $50 or more, depending on the shot.
Visiting a Travel Vaccination Clinic
Although basic vaccines are easy to get from your primary care physician or even a pharmacy, some immunizations usually require a visit to travel health specialists.
My first visit to a travel health clinic was to get a typhoid vaccine for my trip to Nicaragua. Despite how quick and easy it was, it wasn’t cheap. The office charged a mandatory $48 consultation fee along with separate fees for the actual travel vaccines.
For reference, I’ve included their vaccine price list at the bottom of this post. Every doctor will have different fees, but this can serve as a guideline or estimate for your visit.
Important Read: The Travel Health Research You Should Do Before Every Trip
Before you visit travel clinics, make sure you’re aware of some of the health considerations of your trip. Do some simple research ~3 months before your travel so you can:
- collect information about your destinations and activities to tell your physician
- schedule appointments far enough in advance that you get full protection
- allow time for any vaccines that require multiple doses (e.g. Hepatitis B)
Yellow Fever Vaccines Require the Most Planning
Many countries REQUIRE you to get the yellow fever vaccine before travel. This is not just a strong recommendation for your benefit — they may actually deny entry if you don’t have the immunization!
If you need the yellow fever shot, be aware that only certain health centers keep the yellow fever vaccination in stock. To add insult to injury, there is a manufacturing shortage of the YF-Vax estimated to last until 2020. YOU NEED TO PLAN AHEAD! You can search for clinics with yellow fever vaccines on the CDC website.
The cost of the yellow fever vaccine has also shot up with this shortage — budget hundreds of dollars, if you need it.
What Happened at the Appointment?
I met with a nurse practitioner who asked where I’d be traveling, the types of activities I had planned, and context about my travel style. We talked about my immunization records and reviewed my allergies and general medical history. This information helped her point out potential travel risks and develop a travel health plan individualized to my needs.
Getting the Typhoid Vaccine – Easy But Expensive
My specialist agreed that it was a good idea to get a typhoid immunization and explained my options.
There are two forms of vaccine for typhoid fever: an injectable version (inactivated) and an oral version (live virus). Both came with different side effects, efficacy, and costs.
For me, the oral typhoid vaccine was a smarter choice, since I was healthy and could handle the live virus and had time for it to take effect before my trip. It provides longer-lasting protection than the shot, which is great for a frequent traveler like me.
I walked out of the clinic with four pills to take as prescribed. The oral typhoid vaccine cost was $60, not including the $48 office visit fee.
Travel Vaccine Pricelist
Every office sets their own prices for services and vaccines, but I’ve included a flyer from my travel clinic as a sample of what travel vaccines cost. I had already received both Hepatitis A & B which are often recommended for travel. Someone needing a more extensive set of immunizations could be looking hundreds of dollars in travel vaccines!
>>>>> Related Post: Do You Need Travel Insurance?
More tips for your travel clinic visit
Bring a copy of your immunization records.
If you have an international certificate of vaccination, that’s your best option since the office will update it for you during your visit. If not, any written copy of your dates of vaccination will do.
Don’t guess on which vaccines you’ve already had: if you’re wrong, you’ll either be unnecessarily vaccinated a second time or worse, you’ll forego a vaccine you needed because you thought you already received it. Knowing all your dosage dates is handy to track potential needs on booster shots.
Don’t set yourself up for surprise.
It’s important to do your own research even if you have an appointment set up with a doctor. You don’t want to show up and realize all of a sudden that you’ll need three vaccines when you expected one or that you’ll have to budget a cost per dose rather than a one-time bill.
Some immunizations need to be given a week or more in advance of your travel to take effect. Others require multiple dosages, leaving you unprotected if you didn’t allow adequate time to schedule extra appointments. Plan in advance!
Some diseases don’t have vaccines (like zika virus), so read up on precautions and understand the risks before booking a trip.
My nurse practitioner was knowledgeable on travel medicine, but it’s impossible to know every risk of every country off the top of your head. She had reference materials available to look up public health information, but her information was listed by ‘department’ (like a state or province) and not by city, so you might not immediately connect whether you’re at risk.
Gather information ahead of time, ask questions, and don’t forget to pay attention to the other tips your medical professional provides. They have more to offer than just writing prescriptions or jabbing your arm.
>>>>> Related Post: Well, That Sucks (Getting Sick on the Road)
If you have a genuine concern for something that your health professional didn’t bring up, ask them about it!
My simple request for some ciprofloxacin (an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections, often used for travelers’ diarrhea) was honored without the blink of an eye. I hope I don’t need to use it, but better safe than sorry.
This advice goes for more than medication: bring up any health concerns you have so you’re comfortable for your trip.
Alternatives to Travel Health Clinics
Seeing a travel specialist is a smart move if you need information or for a vaccine that some other doctors don’t provide. However, it’s not always the cheapest option and they don’t always accept insurance.
Look for free options (like a flu shot from your employer) and ask your pharmacy or primary care physician about standard vaccinations, like a tetanus booster.
Know your options and take advantage of any savings you qualify for! A penny saved on health costs is one more penny to spend on the travel itself.
Travel Insurance is Also Important
Especially if you’re traveling somewhere with known health risks, you should purchase a travel insurance policy before you leave home. Insurance will cover doctor’s visits abroad, medications, hospitalization, and even emergency flights home if you need it.
Of course, most policies will also cover things like accidents, unplanned expenses from flight cancellations, or even theft. I personally use and recommend RoamRight insurance.
- My Experience Filing a Travel Insurance Claim: I had a less-than-ideal time filling out this travel insurance claim, but in the end, it paid out. (Also, now I use a different provider!!)
- Traveling Smarter (Because Life Happens): When traveling to “iffy” countries like Colombia, protect yourself with these safety tips.
The Bottom Line
Travel vaccines are an important part of taking care of yourself, they come at a cost. The good news is many vaccines protect you for years (or even a lifetime!) so paying for them now may mean your next trip is covered.
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Read More: Top 10 Travel Tips: Advice for Your Next Trip –> I travel about 25% of the year, so I’ve learned a lot of things along the way to make travel easier, safer, and healthier.
18 thoughts on “How Much Do Travel Vaccines Cost?”
My typhoid shot was the most painful I’ve ever had in my life! Way worse than tetanus. I couldn’t move my arm for 2 days!
@Michelle, Ouch! My arm was sore about 3 days after the tetanus shot so I can’t imagine getting the typhoid one. Glad I stuck to the pills.
Great advice! I’ve been doing a lot of research for my upcoming trip to India and Malawi. “Know your options” is probably the best advice. I would add that you can call around to get prices at different pharmacies as well!
@Jennifer, Wow, enjoy your trip! It sounds incredible. Hope those 5-minute phone calls turned into big savings.
When I first got my vaccinations, I was still in school. So students (this is for the States, I can’t speak for other countries) in college should really visit their medical office on campus. It will be a lot less expensive. And they may also know of other travel clinics that are cheap. My Hep A and Hep B were $25-$35 per series. I got typhoid for $38.
Then I went to the Pasadena Public Health Center and got the rest of my series shots for about the same price. So if you’re in Southern California, check out Pasadena and Long Beach, they have publicly funded travel clinics. =)
@Nicole, those are great prices! Thanks for sharing your experiences and tips 🙂
My local grocery store pharmacies provide tetanus, flu, and shingles shots and a bunch of others, plus I get 10% off my grocery bill and they take my insurance. I got my yellow fever shot at a county health office for far less than my local travel office was charging. Pays to shop around. By the way, that yellow fever shot really depleted my energy for several days!
@P T, Thanks for sharing! Always a good reminder to shop around…and plan in advance for those energy sucks!
Great advice! and you are right, some of them are few hundred dollars. I just had a cocktail of vaccines a few weeks back, and the final bill came up to be a bit more than $300. But I guess it’s worth getting them all. I would also add to keep track of dates and vaccines you already have. When I met with my travel nurse, she didn’t remember which vaccines she had used on me.
@Angel, Good advice to keep your own records. I’ve got a basic file on my computer with dates but I also have a yellow booklet my travel clinic provided (actually I think I threw it out…but it would have been an option!)
As a senior covered by Medicare I got a pneumonia vaccination at the same time as my TDAP. This allowed the consultation part of the fee to be covered by Medicare, which it would not have been if only (uncovered elective) travel vaccine was administered.
@Kurt, That’s such a brilliant way to save some money! Thanks for sharing.
I did my vaccinations while traveling in Brazil
The Clinic staff were wonderful. The real yellow fever vaccine I could not even get in the US, but it was available and about 1/10th of the US cost
They loved practicing English on me, the clinic only asked for a donation for the clinic visit. The physician was trained in Boston. Think about it Love your site!
@Glenn, Great tip! I tried to do that at the Lima airport a few years ago but there was too long a line on my layover. Next time!
Thanks for making me aware of the possible option of getting the yellow fever shot in South America. We are planning a trip to Peru (including a place in the Amazon basin) and I have been very put off by the expense of the yellow fever inoculation (as high as $250 I was told. One question that I have is does the shot have to be taken some time in advance?
@Chris, Usually they recommend getting yellow fever 10 days in advance. I can verify the Lima airport has an American Red Cross office that will administer the vaccine, so if you have 10+ days in Peru for Machu Picchu, etc. before heading to the Amazon, it’s a fair option.
I was somehow able to get my typhoid vaccine for no-cost but I did pay for malaria preventative (about $30). I just went to my regular family doc. and scheduled it as my annual checkup (no charge that way) and got my travel vaccines at the same time as my flu shot. I had researched the malaria prevention options on the CDC website before my appt. so I knew which one I wanted (and which ones were effective for the area I was visiting). A couple can have some pretty gnarly side-effects. Pretty easy process overall. Thanks for sharing this useful content!
@sruth, Thanks for sharing your experience! I must need better insurance to get a free typhoid vaccine 🙂