Important health documents for traveling


Here are six examples of health information travelers may need, depending on their destination and health status.

1. The COVID-19 vaccination card

While some cities across the country have required proof of vaccination to participate in certain activities, such as eating indoors, those rules are quickly being lifted as COVID-19 cases decline. However, many countries and major cruise lines still require a vaccination card or a negative COVID-19 test. At least two cruise lines, Grand Circle Cruise Line and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, require passengers to show their original printed vaccination card.

Rules vary, but in general travelers must have their physical vaccination record or a digital image of it with them or they must be able to access the information through a website or app. Certain US States. and some countries offer digital health passports that generate a QR code to show as proof. Other apps, including those offered by Apple, CLEAR, IBM, and SMART, help users manage all of their health information.

Consider protecting your printed card in an inexpensive plastic bag or case, suggests Vicki Sowards, director of clinical resources for Passport Health, a Phoenix-based company that provides medical services to travelers. You can laminate the card, but you won’t be able to add any more photos, he says.

Tracking physical and digital vaccinations is especially important internationally, says Sarah Fazendin, owner of Videre Travel in Denver. “Rules and regulations change all the time,” he explains. “It’s hard to predict what will happen in two weeks.”

2. Evidence of other vaccines

Las personas que viajen a determinados países pueden llevar el registro amarillo en formato impreso (no hay versión digital) que muestra las vacunas que han recibido —por ejemplo, la hepatitis, la fiebre tifoidea o la fiebre amarilla— y que se recomiendan en otras partes of the world. The “Destinations” page of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website provides a list of recommended vaccines and health advisories by country.

Although you don’t usually need to show official proof of these vaccinations, in some countries it is required for certain illnesses. Tanzania, for example, requires proof of yellow fever vaccination.

3. COVID-19 Test Results

Some countries and cruise lines require travelers to present a negative COVID-19 test. Even the United States requires it to re-enter the country, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status.

Showing a photo or email is usually enough, Keyes says, though he recommends bringing a hard copy as a backup. “Let’s say you’re in a taxi to the airport and you forget to charge your phone and can’t access your emails or photos,” he says. “I prefer to have a hard copy just in case. If you have access to a printer at your hotel, please take 30 seconds to print it out and put it in your bag.”

4. A list of your medications and copies of your prescriptions

Have a list of the medications you have been prescribed and their dosages, in printed and digital format. This is one of the first things a medical professional is likely to ask you if you have a medical emergency. The same goes for copies of your prescriptions; take them with you in case you lose your medicine or don’t have enough. You can also save the information to your phone’s lock screen or a portable device, “like a trendy medical alert bracelet,” Keyes says. “Even if you don’t speak the local language, many drugs and prescriptions are easy to translate.”

5. A list of your allergies

Bring a list of allergies or chronic conditions that may be important to a healthcare professional in an emergency. Consider preparing a plastic card to carry in your wallet and enter the information on your phone as well.

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