Travel Medicine

Columbia Health offers a specific set of services related to international travel for free to students enrolled in Columbia Health:

  • Two telephone consultations
  • Recommendations for immunizations
  • Vaccinations

Faculty and staff traveling out of the country should call the Human Resources Benefits Service Center at 212-851-7000.

Travel assessments are available by appointment only; make one by calling Medical Services at 212-854-7426.

For updated travel alerts and precautionary measures related to Zika virus, malaria, dengue, chikagungka, MERS, or Ebola, be sure to visit the Centers for Disease Control travel information website.

Prior to Your Assessment

  • Complete the online questionnaire or respond to the email questionnaire sent to students after they make an appointment.
  • Collect as much information regarding immunization history and have it available. Original documents are not necessary.

Telephone Travel Assessments

Telephone travel assessments allow our providers to identify health risks for a specific trip, including study abroad, and share important health information.

Be sure to have your vaccination records with you for the first telephone consultation, and bring them to your first visit.

During the first 30-minute telephone assessment, a registered nurse will review the travel itinerary and provide information regarding travel risks, preventative care, and necessary immunizations. The nurse will then schedule a 20-minute visit at Medical Services to administer any required immunizations and provide any additional information. Please have all immunization records available during the initial telephone assessment and for the appointment with Medical Services. In some cases, more than one visit may be necessary to complete certain immunization series for the destination.


Students traveling overseas for an extended period should plan in advance for prescription medication needs, as most insurance plans only allow for a 30-day supply of prescription medications. Students insured under the Columbia Student Medical Insurance Plan should contact Aetna Student Health to request approval for a medication supply (often called “vacation override”) adequate to meet their travel needs. Students who carry other insurance plans should contact their carrier for more information.


We recommend that the initial assessment be set up well in advance of the departure date, as some vaccinations may require six weeks to several months and multiple visits to complete the series. Please make an appointment at the same time you reserve the tickets for your trip.

Columbia also offers group appointments to several travelers going to the same destination, pending availability. This visit will be followed by an individual travel telephone assessment to review health history. The nurse will then coordinate an appointment at Medical Services to administer any required vaccinations.

Cancelling or Rescheduling an Appointment

  • Travel assessments are in high demand. As a courtesy to other travelers, students should contact us immediately if they cannot make the scheduled telephone assessment or follow-up appointments.
  • If students do not cancel a scheduled assessment at least 48 hours in advance, they will not be able to schedule another appointment within the same semester. Please keep in mind that students will be responsible for all associated costs.

Health Insurance

Many travelers may need to purchase additional insurance from companies specifically designed to meet these needs. Students should ask their insurance providers if medical evacuation is included.

Students enrolled in the Columbia Student Medical Insurance Plan have travel insurance benefits provided by On Call International.

While You’re Away

When you are away from Columbia and unable to come to Medical Services for an evaluation, you should call or send a secure web message directly to your primary care provider. That way, we are aware of your problem and can prepare a referral for you if necessary.

If it is an urgent problem, you can be seen in the emergency room or an urgent care center without a referral.