Being diagnosed with a primary immunodeficiency (PI) doesn’t mean you have to stay home. Consult with your physician if you plan to travel, especially if you are traveling abroad. With a bit of planning, you will have a safe and enjoyable trip. In addition to the general information below, see our questions to consider while traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Medication and Supplies
Medication and supplies should be packed where you can easily access them at all times when you are traveling, for example, in your carry-on luggage when traveling by air. Ask your immunologist if you should bring antibiotics or other non-routine medications in case you become ill.
Medications, including medically-necessary liquids or gels over three ounces, will be allowed through a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoint once they have been screened. Keep your medications in their original containers and let security personnel know that you have medication and/or other supplies that need to be screened. Your healthcare provider should write a letter of necessity for all medications and medical equipment.
You may also carry on medical equipment, such as freezer packs, IV bags, pumps, and syringes as long as they have been inspected. Again, alert security personnel that you have medical equipment that needs to be screened.
The TSA offers a notification card that can be used by travelers with disabilities or medical conditions. Note that the TSA Notification Card does not replace a letter of necessity written by your physician.
You can learn more about travel from the special procedures section of the TSA website.
Carry a copy of your 'I Am Immunocompromised' card with you, a list of all medications and their dosage, as well as any additional emergency information. Ask your immunologist for the name and contact information of a medical facility or immunologist in the area to which you are traveling, or use IDF's Clinician Finder.
The U.S. State Department also recommends registering with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) if you are traveling internationally. The program helps connect you with the local U.S. embassy or consulate in case you experience an emergency at your destination and keeps you informed about local safety conditions.
No one wants to become ill when they are away from home. Consider the following additional precautions to keep you well.
- Drink bottled or boiled water.
- Make sure meat, poultry, shellfish, and fish are thoroughly cooked.
- Wash or peel fruits and vegetables.
- Eat prepared food only if it is purchased in a store or restaurant subject to health codes.
- Rest as much as possible when traveling.
Ask your immunologist if there are other precautions you should take regarding food, beverages, or other issues that are important to your care while traveling.
Always carry a copy of your insurance card. If you are traveling out of your state or to another country, contact your insurance company regarding coverage. Determine whether you need to purchase additional coverage.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends additional vaccinations for travelers to specific countries. When traveling outside the U.S., consult with your physician regarding whether you should receive additional immunizations. Note that some travel-related vaccines are live, attenuated vaccines that may not be appropriate for people with PI.
- U.S. State Department: Traveling with Disabilities
- U.S. State Department: Country Information
- International Medical Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers
- Option Care Health: Traveling While on Therapy
- Horizon CGD Connections: Travel made easy with chronic granulomatous disease (CGD)