Vaccine Info

Immunizations and Personal Safety

Various vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable and other diseases that you might be at risk for in Haiti should be considered before traveling abroad on a medical mission.

Routine vaccines (e.g., influenza, chickenpox, polio, measles / mumps / rubella, and diphtheria / pertussis / tetanus) are given at all stages of life and are recommended for international travelers.  Although the childhood diseases the vaccines prevent are now rare in the United States, they are still common in many undeveloped parts of the world and a traveler whose vaccines are not up to date would be at higher risk for infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you see a health-care provider who specializes in Travel Medicine.  at least one month before you travel internationally to be fully protected, but even a last-minute visit to a health care provider can be helpful to get medicines and advice for your trip.   If you need help finding a travel medicine specialist, see CDC Find a Clinic.

Risks can be constantly changing, and MATH highly recommends that each participant utilize the CDC Travelers’ Health for the most accurate and up-to-date information during and after traveling.

Pregnancy Considerations

If you are pregnant or considering pregnancy in the next six months, including male / female partners of women who fall into this category, you need to reconsider your travel to Haiti.  There are risks of harming your pregnancy if you are exposed to some of the viruses or receive the vaccinations. There are no treatments available for some of these illnesses, and the results can be catastrophic for the pregnancy.

Please visit CDC Pregnant Travelers for additional information and discuss with your personal physician before considering travel.  We also need to know if you are pregnant or soon to be, so we can make a judgement about your capability to serve safely.

Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in Haiti

All Travelers

  • Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR)
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis (DTP)
  • Varicella (chickenpox)
  • Polio
  • Yearly flu shot

Most Travelers

  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin
  • Typhoid

Some Travelers

  • Cholera
  • Hepatitis B
  • Rabies
  • Yellow Fever

Medication-Preventable Diseases in Haiti

Most Travelers

  • Malaria

Ways to prevent malaria:

  • Take prescription drugs – Atovoquone/proguanil, Chloriquine, Doxycycline, Mefloquine, Primaquine, or Tafenoquine.  For information that can help you and your medical professional decide which drug is best for you, please see CDC Choosing a Drug to Prevent Malaria
  • NOTE:  You should purchase your antimalarial drugs before travel.  Drugs purchased overseas may not be manufactured according to United States standards and may not be effective.  They also may be dangerous, contain counterfeit medications or contaminants, or be combinations of drugs that are not safe to use.  Halafantrine (marketed as Halfan) is widely used overseas  to treat malaria.  The CDC recommends that you do NOT uses halafantrine because of serious heart-related side effects, including death.  You should avoid using antimalarial drugs that are not recommended unless you have been diagnosed with life-threatening malaria and no other options are immediately available.
  • Use insect repellent and wear long pants and long sleeves to prevent insect bites
  • Sleep in air-conditioned or well-screened rooms or use bed-nets.


Other Diseases Spread by Mosquitoes Found in the Haiti

  • Chikungunya
  • Dengue Fever
  • Zika

Ways to prevent

  • Use insect repellent and wear long pants and long sleeves to prevent insect bites
  • Sleep in air-conditioned or well-screened rooms or use bed-nets.

Staying Healthy During Your Trip

Drink and use safe water*

  • Bottled water with unbroken seals and canned/bottled carbonated beverages are safe to drink and use.
  • Use safe water to brush your teeth.
  • *Piped water sources, drinks sold in cups or bag, or ice may not be safe.  All drinking water and water used to make ice should be boiled or treated with chlorine.

Wash your hands often with soap and safe water

  • If no soap is available, use an alcohol-based hand cleanser (containing at least 60% alcohol).

Be careful about food and water

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before eating.  If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel (with at least 60% alcohol).
  • Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated drinks in cans or bottles.  Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes.
  • Do not eat food purchased from street vendors.
  • Make sure food is fully cooked.
  • Avoid dairy products, unless you know they have been pasteurized.

Prevent insect bites

  • Use insect repellent with 30%-50% DEET, or product with equivalent effectiveness.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and a hat outdoors.  Clothing can be treated with Permethrin prior to travel.
  • Avoid being outside during peak biting times (dawn and dusk).
  • Sleep in beds covered by nets treated with Permethrin, if not sleeping in a well-screened room.
  • Spray rooms with products effective against flying insects, such as those containing Pyrethroid.

Prevent sunburn

  • Use sunblock rated at least SPF 15.

Other health tips

  • Avoid animal bites and serious diseases, (including rabies and plague).  Do not handle animals, especially dogs and cats.  If you are bitten or scratched, wash the wound immediately with soap and water and seek medical attention to determine if medication or anti-rabies vaccine is needed.
  • Prevent fungal and parasitic infections.  Keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot especially on beaches where animals have defecated.


After Your Trip

If you are not feeling well after your trip, you may need to see a doctor. If you need help finding a travel medicine specialist, see CDC Find a Clinic. Be sure to tell your doctor about your travel, including where you went and what you did on your trip.  Also tell your doctor if you were bitten or scratched by an animal while traveling.

If your doctor prescribed antimalarial medicine for your trip, keep taking the rest of your pills after you return home.  If you stop taking your medicine too soon, you could still get sick.

Malaria is always a serious disease and may be a deadly illness.  If you become ill with a fever either while traveling in a malaria-risk area or after you return home (for up to 1 year), you should seek immediate medical attention and should tell the doctor about your travel history.