You may not think of Europe as a place where you need vaccines before you go on vacation, but measles cases are at a record high in Europe this year. The CDC recommends that people traveling to any country outside the US take precautions against measles, so if you’re planning summer travel, now is a good time to check that you’re up to date on vaccinations.
If you were born before 1957, if you know that you’ve had measles, or if you know you’ve had two doses of the MMR vaccine, you’re set. Otherwise, you may need another shot to be fully protected. Check out our post about how to know if you need a measles vaccine, or better yet, ask your doctor. Babies can get an early dose of the vaccine at 6 months, so check with your pediatrician if you’re traveling with little ones.
After you come back, whether you’re vaccinated or not, call (don’t visit) your doctor if you feel yourself coming down with a fever or other measles-like symptoms. (The vaccine is very effective, but no vaccine is perfect.) The American Academy of Pediatrics notes that returning travelers can often spread the illness before they realize they are sick, and doctors should consider the possibility of measles among people who have recently returned from a trip.
It’s always good to check the CDC’s destination page for the place you’re going, to see if there are any ongoing outbreaks of measles or another disease. But the travel recommendations are worldwide because airports themselves are places where measles can easily spread. Tourist attractions, too. So stay safe, get your shots if applicable, and be aware of the risks.