Travel Medicine

Service update regarding letters to facilitate travel refunds

Columbia Health is unable to issue letters on behalf of students seeking travel refunds due to cancelled or postponed travel due to the COVID-19 outbreak, unless the cancellation was due to you being diagnosed by Columbia Health with COVID-19.

If this is University-related travel, please contact your school or program to assist with securing a letter. For personal travel, please contact the travel provider to discuss options they are offering in response to the crisis.

Last updated: Monday, March 23, 2020.

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

  • Recommendations for immunizations
  • Vaccinations

Travel assessments are available by appointment only. To make a travel assessment appointment, email Medical Services at Appointments are scheduled with a provider who will review your travel itinerary and a nurse who will administer recommended vaccines. Visit the Service Fees page for vaccine prices.

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

    Faculty and staff traveling outside of the U.S. should contact the Columbia Benefits Service Center to find out about benefits coverage.

    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.


    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 Health 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.

    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 Health 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.