International Travel Advisory Clinic
Personalized advice from our travel health care experts.
Whether it’s your first time traveling internationally or you’re a seasoned traveler, there’s a lot to do to prepare for your upcoming trip. Let our team of health care travel experts help you to stay healthy while traveling.
Do I need a travel nurse appointment? Are there countries for which an appointment is not necessary?
If you’re traveling within the United States or on a domestic cruise ship, you do not need a travel nurse appointment. In addition, you do not need an appointment if you’re traveling to any of the following countries:
- New Zealand
- Western Europe: Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, Switzerland
- Northern Europe: Aland Islands, Channel Islands, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland)
- Southern Europe: Andorra, Gibraltar, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, San Mareno, Spain
How far ahead of my trip should I schedule my travel appointment?
It’s best to have your consultation with a Nurse Travel Specialist about 6 to 8 weeks before you plan to leave. This amount of time gives your body time to develop immunity should you need immunizations.
If you plan to leave before that – even if you’re leaving next week – it’s still worth setting up a consultation.
What is the difference between recommended and required vaccines?
There are some countries that require proof of vaccination for diseases (such as yellow fever or polio) prior to entrance. The travel nurse can tell you which vaccines will be required for you and your family, based on your travel plans. We will also tell you which vaccines are recommended or suggested, based on your travel plans and health history.
How do I schedule my travel nurse appointment?
Travel consults are completed over the phone and while you will need to come to a nursing clinic and/or pharmacy to complete the process, the appointment itself will be a telephone appointment.
San Diego members can call the Appointment Call Center at 800-290-5000 to schedule a telephone consultation with one of our Nurse Travel Specialists.
What is a travel nurse appointment?
It is a telephone consultation with a Kaiser Permanente registered nurse who is an expert in travel medicine. The travel nurse will ask you a series of questions about your travel plans and review your medical record. Based on that information, the travel nurse will advise you about immunizations, medications, and other precautionary measures you can take to ensure that you stay healthy while traveling. The travel nurse specialist can also answer any questions you might have about health issues for your trip.
Following the appointment, your information and the nurse’s recommendations are reviewed by a travel physician specialist, who provides final approval for your travel health guidance, including medications and immunizations. Medications and immunizations will be available to you at a nurses’ clinic or pharmacy of your choice typically one to two days after your travel consult.
I am new to Kaiser Permanente and haven’t seen a primary care physician. When can I schedule a travel nurse appointment?
If you are new to Kaiser Permanente you will need to see your primary care physician before you can be scheduled to talk to the travel nurse. New member information for getting started can be found here.
What information do I need to have ready for the travel nurse appointment?
Please have ready for your appointment:
- a copy of your itinerary, including dates of travel
- activities you have planned
- information about vaccines received from non-Kaiser Permanente facilities
- current weight for any travelers under 16 years old
If you have set up access to act on behalf of another family member at Kaiser Permanente, you will be able to speak with the nurse for your family member, otherwise that person will need to talk directly with the nurse. If you’re not already registered to act for a family member, you can sign up online.
My partner or adult child who is traveling with me can’t make the appointment time. Can I participate on his or her behalf?
Each traveler over the age of 18 needs to participate in a consultation to receive vaccinations or medicine.
How long will the appointment last?
For a travel consultation for 1 person, your phone appointment will take about 15 to 25 minutes. For 2 to 3 family members on the same consultation, your phone appointment will take 20-40 minutes. For 3 or more family members on the same consultation, your phone appointment will take about an hour.
I have a health condition. Is it safe for me to receive medications or immunizations?
During your telephone consultation, the travel nurse will have access to your medical record, and will use that information to provide recommendations. If you have specific concerns, be sure to tell the travel nurse about them and talk with your primary care physician.
What should I do if I get sick while traveling?
If you have questions about your Kaiser Permanente coverage while traveling, call 951-268-3900 (right number for San Diego webpage?) for 24/7 travel support.
If you are traveling and think you have a medical or psychiatric emergency, call 911, local emergency services, or go to the nearest hospital.
How do I prevent jet lag while traveling?
Jet lag is extreme tiredness or other physical effects experienced when you fly across 3 or more time zones. It is usually worse when flying east (from the United States to Europe) than west (from the United States to China).
With appropriately timed light exposure, melatonin, and shifting your sleep time a few days prior to travel, jet lag symptoms can be improved.
When possible, choose daytime flights to minimize fatigue and sleep loss. You should also:
- Drink lots of water.
- Avoid large, heavy meals, fatty foods, and caffeine and alcohol, especially during the flight.
If flying east:
- Begin to reset the body clock by shifting the timing of sleep 1 to 2 hours earlier for a few days before traveling eastward.
- Expose yourself to light (sunlight, room light, or light box) for several hours after local wakeup time at your destination.
- Take 3 mg melatonin 1 hour before bed time at your destination for the next 4 days.
If flying west:
- Begin to reset the body clock by shifting the timing of sleep 1 to 2 hours later for a few days before traveling westward.
- Minimize exposure to light several hours before going to sleep at your destination.
- Studies have not shown melatonin to be necessary when travelling west.
The safety and effectiveness of melatonin has not been thoroughly tested. Taking large doses of it may disrupt your sleep and make you very tired during the day. Avoid using if you are planning to drive or need to be alert within 8 hours after taking it.
How do I know if I need a yellow fever vaccine waiver?
The travel nurse will let you know if you are visiting a country that requires a yellow fever vaccine. If you cannot receive the vaccine, you will need an official exemption letter called a “waiver,” as a well as a yellow International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis Card (ICVP), to enter the destination country.
My travel nurse said I need a yellow fever vaccine waiver. What do I do now?
All yellow fever waivers must contain your name exactly as it appears on your passport. In addition, it should be dated, signed, and stamped with an official stamp that is only available at some of our facilities.
The travel nurse will let you know where and when to pick up your letter and your yellow International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis Card (ICVP). Please allow for extra time to get your waiver when you arrive at the facility. The waiver and the ICVP will be prepared while you wait.
I recently got back from a trip and think I might be sick. Do I need to contact Travel Services?
If you have recently traveled and are not feeling well, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor, go to Urgent Care or the Emergency Department depending on the severity of your symptoms. You do not need to contact the Travel Advisory Service, because it is primarily only for pre-travel counseling. However, be sure to tell your doctor where you have recently traveled.