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Five Types of Malaria Prophylaxis Vaccination Drugs Available for Travel Protection

Five Types of Malaria Prophylaxis Vaccination Drugs Available for Travel Protection

Malaria has been extinct in the United States since the early 1950s. Thanks to intense government interventions in the early 20th century, contracting malaria within the U.S. is now almost impossible.

What is not impossible, however, is catching the sickness in another country and carrying it back into the country. Every year, about 1,500 United States travelers bring malaria home with them.

If you know the country you are traveling experiences malaria outbreaks, you must seek the proper malaria prophylaxis, or, medicines that prevent malaria. Nobody living in the United States should visit unindustrialized nations or rural parts of the world without looking into getting a travel vaccination. Even if you’re originally from the country you plan on visiting, you are not immune to its local diseases. People who don’t take preventative measures to protect their health while abroad are putting their bodies at risk for infection.

For malaria, there are five types of malaria medicine available for travelers, each with different benefits and issues:


This inexpensive medicine can be taken a day before taking off, which can be very convenient for travelers who do not visit a travel clinic at least two weeks before leaving. But this cheaper brand has common side effects such as stomach ache and skin sensitively. It may also trigger yeast infections in women who are prone to them.

Atovaquone/Proguanil (Malarone)

This drug can also be conveniently taken only one to two days before landing in your destination country, but it tends to be more expensive. However, unlike its cheaper counterpart, Doxycycline, Malarone affords little to no side effects.


This is the final daily medicine available that can also be taken one to days before leaving. It’s different in that it is specifically designed for the P. vivax species of malaria. If the area you plan on traveling to carries this species of malaria, then Primaquine is right for you.


If you’re taking a long trip somewhere, this pill is convenient because it is only taken weekly. It is also safe for pregnant women.

Mefloquine (Lariam)

Just like Chloroquine, this drug is taken weekly and is safe for pregnant women. Also similar to Chloroquine, travelers need to start taking Lariam two weeks before leaving the country.

These drugs cannot be taken by everybody and are not efficient everywhere. People taking other medications or that have certain health problems need to speak with a physician about possible complications. There are also parts of the world resistant to certain types of malaria medication. For example, Chloroquine will not protect travelers going to Brazil, Afghanistan and many other countries.

Before you leave the country, meet with a travel physician that will help you decide which malaria prophylaxis is right for you. For medication that yields the fewest side effects, plan on starting the medicine two weeks before taking off. You may also need another type of travel vaccination for diseases such as typhoid, hepatitis A and hepatitis B, which are common in many parts of the world.