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I was reading an old answer that referenced the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis they carried in their passport. I've never heard of this before, despite getting several travel vaccinations and doing a fair bit of international travel.

My question is: when is a document like this necessary? And should I have received one from the travel clinic I went to in the US for my vaccinations?

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In theory, the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) card serves as a record of all major vaccinations you've had, including things like Tetanus, Hepatitis, Rabies, Typhoid, TB, etc. Carrying one with you when you travel is a little like carrying a very abridged version of your medical records - specifically for vaccinations. The obvious thing this could save you is something like an extra tetanus shot given that you can show you only had one X years ago.

In practice, the ICVP really only serves a single purpose - to show that you have received a Yellow Fever vaccination within the past 10 years. The International Health Regulations from the World Health Organization (WHO) allows/recommends for countries to require proof of vaccination against Yellow Fever for all incoming passengers who have recently visited a country where Yellow fever is prevalent - even if only for transit. There are also a number of countries that will not allow entry at all without proof of vaccination.

If you have an ICVP there's no real need to travel with it at all times, but if there's any chance you will visit one of these countries on your travels then you should definitely make sure you have one, and have it with you when you travel!

If you don't have a ICVP, obtaining one is as easy as asking for it when getting a relevant vaccination. For Yellow Fever vaccinations, you will be given one without asking and the relevant area on the card should be stamped AND signed by the person certifying that you've been vaccinated. For most other vaccinations you will normally not be given one unless you ask for it, and they will normally not be stamped or even signed.

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Depends on where you're travelling to of course, but according to the WHO website the only disease that this certificate is required for is Yellow Fever.

The only disease specifically designated in the International Health Regulations (2005) for which proof of vaccination or prophylaxis may be required as a condition of entry to a State Party, is yellow fever. When administering this vaccine, the clinician must write “Yellow Fever” in the space provided on this certificate. This same certificate will also be used in the event that these Regulations are amended or a recommendation is made under these Regulations by the World Health Organization to designate another disease.

So if you have received a vaccination against this disease you should have this certificate. I don't know if this will be required to enter the countries where this disease exists but it may be required to re-enter the United States.

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