Greece, the cradle of Western civilization, is celebrated for its magnificent ancient ruins, including the iconic Parthenon in Athens. This land, where philosophers like Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle pondered the mysteries of existence, has made indelible marks on philosophy, science, mathematics, and democracy. Its rich literary heritage is evidenced by the works of playwrights such as Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes. For visitors, Greece offers a feast for the senses: from savoring classic Greek cuisine — ranging from moussaka and souvlaki to baklava — to basking in the beauty of its stunning beaches and crystal-clear waters in destinations like Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete. Additionally, the country’s numerous museums and galleries offer a window into its rich history and culture, making it a haven for tourists.
If you’re planning a trip to Greece, 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 Greece
As of November 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 also 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 most travelers and is particularly recommended for those who will be engaging in higher-risk activities, such as visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas, or eating street food.
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 Greece, and notes that those 60 years old and up may get vaccinated prior to traveling to Greece.
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 Greece is free of dog rabies but that the disease may still be present in wildlife species (especially bats). The organization recommends rabies vaccination prior to a trip to Greece only for those who will be working directly with wildlife on their trip, such as veterinarians, animal handlers, field biologists, or laboratory workers who will be working with specimens from mammals.
Prior to any travel to Greece, be sure to check the official CDC Traveler’s Health page, as vaccination recommendations may have been updated since the publication of this article.
As you gear up to immerse yourself in Greece’s enchanting blend of ancient history and Mediterranean charm, from the iconic ruins of Athens to the sun-kissed beaches of the Greek Isles, prioritize your well-being. Remember, being well-prepared with vaccinations is the cornerstone of a carefree and deeply rewarding Greek odyssey.
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.