The most popular international destination for American travelers, Mexico is known for its white-sand beaches, awe-inspiring Mayan and Aztec ruins, culinary delights, colonial towns, and diverse landscapes.
If you’re planning a trip south of the border, it’s important to know what vaccinations are recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for travel to this destination. (Be sure to visit your doctor at least a month prior to your trip to get any vaccines or medicines you may need.)
Recommended vaccines for travel to Mexico
As of October 2023, here are the current CDC guidelines:
Vaccines the CDC recommends prior to every trip include those for chickenpox (varicella), diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTaP), flu (influenza), measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), polio, and shingles.
COVID-19 is a highly contagious viral respiratory infection. It spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets or small particles containing the virus, which can then enter through the eyes, nose, or mouth of an uninfected person (or contaminate surfaces, in some cases).
For everyone who is eligible, the CDC recommends being up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations.
Hepatitis A is a highly contagious liver infection that is caused by the hepatitis A virus. It is primarily spread when an uninfected person consumes food or water that has been contaminated by the feces of an infected person, or when an infected person uses dirty hands to prepare food.
This vaccine is recommended for unvaccinated travelers 1 year old or older who will be going to Mexico. Infants who are 6 months to 11 months old should also be vaccinated for hepatitis A. (According to the CDC, “the dose does not count toward the routine 2-dose series.”)
Those who are allergic to a component of the vaccine or who are under 6 months old should receive a single dose of immune globulin, which can provide protection for up to 2 months (depending on the dosage given).
Unvaccinated travelers who are over 40 years old, immunocompromised, or who have chronic health conditions who are departing to a “risk area” in less than 2 weeks are advised to get the initial dose of vaccine and at the same appointment receive immune globulin.
Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus. It is spread when blood, semen, or another bodily fluid from someone who is infected enters the body of someone who is not infected, as can happen during sexual contact, sharing drug-injection equipment, or during birth from mother to baby.
The CDC recommends this vaccine for unvaccinated travelers younger than 60 going to Mexico, and notes that those 60 years old and up may get vaccinated prior to traveling to Mexico.
For travelers going to certain parts of Mexico, the CDC recommends taking prescription medicine to prevent malaria. Depending on the medicine used, it will need to be taken multiple days prior to the trip, as well as during and after the travels. The CDC advises speaking with your doctor to determine which malaria medicine you should take.
Measles is a serious, highly contagious airborne disease that can lead to a variety of complications, including death. It is spread when an uninfected person comes into contact with infected nasal or throat secretions (for example, from coughing or sneezing) or breathes the air that was breathed by someone with the condition.
The CDC recommends that infants 6 to 11 months old who are traveling internationally get one dose of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine before their trip. (The dose does not count as part of the routine childhood vaccination series.)
(Note that measles is also listed among the CDC’s “routine vaccinations” above.)
Rabies is a viral disease most often spread through the bite of an infected, or “rabid,” animal. It infects the central nervous system in mammals, causing disease in the brain and, ultimately, death.
The CDC notes that rabid dogs are commonly found in Mexico and adds that rabies treatment is often available locally if you are bitten or scratched by a dog or other mammal in Mexico. The organization suggests that those who will be around dogs or wildlife on their travels, such as campers, cave explorers, veterinarians and other animal handlers, and visitors to rural areas should consider rabies vaccination prior to their trip. (A more complete list of those who should consider rabies vaccine is available on the CDC’s website.) Because children are more likely to be bitten or scratched by a dog or other animal, rabies vaccine should also be considered for this group prior to travel to Mexico.
Typhoid is a bacterial condition caused by salmonella bacteria. It is spread when an uninfected person consumes food or beverages that have been prepared by a person shedding the bacteria or when sewage contaminated with the bacteria gets into the water a person uses for drinking or washing food.
The CDC recommends the typhoid vaccine for most travelers, and particularly for those who will be staying with friends or relatives or visiting smaller cities or rural areas.
Prior to any travel to Mexico, be sure to check the official CDC Traveler’s Health page, as vaccination recommendations may have been updated since the publication of this article.
Disclaimer of Medical Advice: This information does not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual needs.