Travel Medicine

Habif Health and Wellness Center offers care to students who are traveling abroad, including physical exams, advice and immunizations as needed. Before you travel, schedule a travel medicine appointment to make sure you are prepared for your trip.

Your travel medicine visit

  1. Schedule an appointment by calling 314-935-6666. A nurse will obtain some basic information from you over the phone (itinerary, forms required), and will make you an appointment with one of our health care providers.
  2. Please allow at least 4 weeks before your departure in order to have enough time for all vaccinations to be completed.
  3. It is critical that you have your immunization records with you (or already in our records) for the visit with the provider. If you have any forms that we need to complete, you will need to bring those with you as well.

Before you leave

Check the CDC website to get information on the country you are visiting. Read about any epidemics or outbreak in progress. Read about water and food precautions. The CDC site will also give you information on the general immunizations you need and any additional vaccinations needed for that specific country. Some vaccinations need to be given weeks before departure, so do not wait. Make an appointment as soon as you know where you will be going, so any needed vaccines can be given in the appropriate time frame.

Immunization and testing

All the following shots should be up to date:

  • Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) (Series of 2 shots)
  • Tetanus and Diphtheria (Td) – within the past 10 years or 5 years if you will be doing work outside around soil or rusted material
  • Hepatitis B (series of three shots)
  • Polio
  • Individual countries may have HIV testing or vaccination requirements to get a visa or enter the country.
  • Tuberculosis (TB) screening after returning is a good idea if you are visiting an area where TB is known to occur.

An additional dose of vaccine is required in Africa, Asia (East and Southeast), the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and the majority of the New Independent States of the former Soviet Union.


Some medication for malaria must be taken before, during and after your trip in order to be effective. Use of insect repellent decreases your chances of contracting malaria. Different strains of malaria are prevalent in different regions of the world, and not all medications are effective in preventing or treating some strains—for example, chloroquine-resistant malaria is endemic to many regions and thus chloroquine may not be used to prevent malaria. Check the Center for Disease Control (CDC) website to determine what type of medication will be effective in preventing malaria.


If you are taking prescription medication, you should keep the medication in its original container from the pharmacy, which will have your name, the medication name, dose, and the name of the practitioner who prescribed the medication. Do not transfer any medication into any unmarked container. You may also ask to have a written letter or prescription from your physician verifying this medication was prescribed by a licensed practitioner and is necessary for medical reasons. You should calculate the amount of medication you will need while you are away, and bring enough so you do not run out. Some countries prohibit certain kinds of medication, so make sure to research the medication laws where you will be traveling. Emergency contraception and birth control pills may be illegal to purchase or carry in some Islamic countries. Persons with diabetes need to know each country’s regulations on needles and should have a note from their provider stating they have diabetes and should be able to carry needed supplies (including syringes) with them.

Food and water

The number one cause of illness in travelers is from food and waterborne diseases. Diseases from food and water can cause diarrhea, vomiting, fever and liver disease (hepatitis). The CDC has more tips on how to stay healthy abroad. Some suggestions include drinking only bottled or boiled water or carbonated drinks in cans or bottles (and not using ice), not using tap water to brush your teeth, and only eating thoroughly cooked food or fruits and vegetables you have peeled yourself. Avoid street vendor food or dairy products unless you know they have been properly pasteurized. Do not handle animals, especially monkeys, dogs and cats.

Quick packing list for travel abroad

  • A small first aid kit with band-aids, antibiotic and a thermometer
  • Motion sickness medications
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers like Ibuprofen and aspirin
  • Rehydration packets
  • Allergy medicines such as Benadryl and an Epipen
  • Iodine tablets and water filters for purifying water
  • Insect repellent and 40% DEET to spray clothing
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunblock (SPF 15 or higher), sunglasses, wide-brim hat and lip balm
  • Condoms and/or dental dams and water or silicone-based lubricant
  • Birth control supply
  • Yeast infection medicine
  • Over-the counter cold remedies, stool softeners and antidiarrheal medicine

Health tips

  • Automobile accidents account for 50% of fatalities and medical evacuations in travelers: wear seat belts and do not walk on dark roadways at night
  • Don’t drive or swim when drunk
  • Don’t walk around barefoot
  • If you are visiting a mosquito prone area, spray yourself and clothes with 40% DEET, and cover skin completely with clothes
  • Wear hats to protect from the sun and apply sunscreen of at least SPF 15 liberally and often

What’s my medical insurance coverage?

The student health insurance plan provides coverage even while you are abroad. Learn how to take advantage of your health insurance while traveling, and what options are available to you if you are sick or injured abroad.

GeoBlue Student Blanket Accident and Sickness Insurance

The GeoBlue policy covers Washington University enrolled undergraduate and graduate students who are temporarily engaged in sponsored or approved educational activities outside the United States. Purchase is required for all undergraduate students and some graduate programs.

Undergraduate students participating in study abroad semester or academic year programs administered by Arts & Sciences, Olin Business School and Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts will be automatically roster enrolled in the GeoBlue Student policy for the duration of their study abroad.

All other Washington University graduate students and undergraduate students engaged in educational activities abroad can self-enroll online and access policy documents at the GeoBlue Students page by using Washington University’s group access code KXW-37937 and paying with a credit card. Find information about GeoBlue’s COVID-19 coverage for student travelers. See a guide for enrollment.

For more information, please visit International Health Insurance or email.