January 25, 2011

Immunizations & Visas for Panama


None of the vaccinations are required to enter Panama, but it is definitely recommended that you get covered ahead of time to greatly lessen your chances of catching something hazardous to your well-being. It wouldn't hurt to dig out your medical records now to see which shots you have already had, and which vaccinations you may want to add your collection.

If you are a UCSD student, regardless of coverage under the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP), you will be able to get all the required shots and oral medication at the travel clinic at the Student Health Service (http://studenthealth.ucsd.edu/travelclinic.shtml), which is just west of the Bookstore. Those enrolled in SHIP simply have a discount. Of course, if you have a doctor outside school, he/she will be able to give you (or refer you to a travel nurse) the traveling advice, vaccinations, and medications you need.

Important: You should schedule an appointment with a doctor / travel nurse at Student Health Service at least a month before departure due to busy travel seasons and for certain vaccinations to kick into full effect.

Here is a list of recommended vaccinations to have for Panama (information taken from MDTravelHealth. The Central for Disease Control and Prevention also give very similar advice):
  • Hepatitis A - Recommended for all travelers.
  • Typhoid - Recommended for all travelers. (Oral vaccination available)
  • Yellow fever - Recommended for all travelers to the provinces of Darien, Kunayala (San Blas), and Panama, excluding the Canal Zone.
  • Hepatitis B - For travelers who may have intimate contact with local residents, especially if visiting for more than 6 months.
  • Rabies - For travelers who may have direct contact with animals and may not have access to medical care.
  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) - Two doses recommended for all travelers born after 1956, if not previously given.
  • Tetanus-diphtheria - Revaccination recommended every 10 years.
  • Malaria: Malarone or Prophylaxis is recommended for rural areas in the provinces of Bocas del Toro, Darien and San Blas. (Oral vaccination only)
Tourist Visas

If you are not a citizen of the U.S. (ex: international/exchange student), you may still be able to travel to Panama without applying for a tourist visa. Check this site: http://www.lawyers-abogados.net/en/Services/Immigration/panama-authorised-visa-requirements.htm to see if your country of citizenship would allow you to simply get the visa at the airport.

If your country of citizenship is not listed on the top list, you will have to apply for a tourist visa on your own. It should take about 6 weeks for approval & processing. This site has information on how to do so: http://www.learn4good.com/travel/panama_visa.htm#req and on the bottom of the page you'll find a link to the contact information of the Panamanian embassies.