Health Issues Abroad

Health and wellness start before you go abroad. It is important to research the country in which you will be studying to be aware of any health concerns that may be present and actions you can take to avoid putting yourself at risk. Likewise, you should be aware of your own mental and physical health in order to take proper care of yourself and to stay well abroad.


Predeparture Checkups


You should complete all individual appointments well in advance of your departure date, including immunizations and assessment of special health problems. You also need to take care of doctor or dental check-ups that would fall within the time overseas. It is important that you know and take with you any of the following information that applies: blood type, eyeglass and contact lens prescriptions, prescriptions for medications being taken (written in generic terms), and a doctor’s statement about any special health problems.


Preexisting Medical Conditions


Students with any preexisting medical conditions, physical or mental, should inform the Office of International Programs and their program provider so we can assist you in making arrangements for appropriate medical attention or special needs. You should carry a letter from the attending physician, describing the medical condition and any prescription medications, including the generic name of prescribed drugs.


If you are currently taking medications:


  • Be sure to take enough for the duration of your stay. You may not be able to find the same medication overseas.
  • Keep an original copy of the doctor’s prescription with your passport.
  • Any medications being carried overseas should be left in their original containers and be clearly labeled. Students should check with the foreign embassy of the country they are visiting to make sure any required medications are not considered to be illegal narcotics.
  • It is advised that you take your own syringes if you require regular injections.
  • If you have a special medical condition, it is a good idea to buy a medical alert bracelet.
  • If you just can’t live without certain specific, over-the-counter medications, ointments, etc., be sure to take enough to last your entire trip.


Some vaccinations may be required to enter certain countries. Other vaccinations may be suggested, but not required. Check with your local county health department for suggested and required vaccinations to enter countries where you may be traveling.

The Allegheny County Health Department can be reached at (412) 578-8060. You can also find listings of required and suggested vaccinations, general information on health concerns in all parts of the world, travel medicine clinics, and providers at the following websites:


The Center for Disease Control

International Society of Travel Medicine (ISTM)

Travel Health Online

World Health Organization