Medical FAQs

Health Tips You Should Know
Before Traveling to Mexico



There has been significant improvement in medical care in Mexico in the past few years. Cancun and Merida now have world-class private clinics but the quality of medical services outside of these two main cities can vary significantly.

However, by taking preemptive steps before leaving and observing a few precautions on holiday, senior travelers should have a problem-free time in the Yucatan.

Here's our current list of Medical FAQs that will be useful for seniors traveling to Mexico—to anyone travling to Mexico, actually.

We will keep updating this list as we learn more, and this includes breaking news about the swine flu, so keep checking back with us. We're doing our best to keep you healthy on the road.

If there is anything you would like to see included on this page please let us know.

Here's our list of useful Medical FAQs, many of which will be specifically relevant to travel in Mexico.

What vaccinations do I need?

There are no required inoculations for travel to Mexico. Resort areas and popular ancient sites in the Yucatan are pretty low risk areas. If birding in Mexico is your passion, come prepared with insect repellent as most of the beautiful exotic birds roost in swampy wetlands and tropical jungle. Although natural insect repellents are available, unfortunately DEET works best.

If you are planning to channel Indiana Jones, however, and are off to hack through deep jungle in southern Quintana Roo close to Belize or Guatemala, have a chat with your doctor about taking malaria tablets.

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What preventative vaccines are recommended for senior travelers?

Preventive medical care in Mexico for senior travelers should include shots against Hepatitis A, which is common in Mexico, and typhoid.

Hepatitis A vaccine should be administered 2-4 weeks before departure and oral tablets against typhoid taken until completed. If there is a lot of time to be spent outdoors in remote areas and in activities that might bring you into contact with animals and bats, tetanus and rabies shots are essential.

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What about medical insurance?

Check to see if your insurance carrier will pay for medical care in Mexico. Otherwise, plan to buy extended medical coverage. For older travelers with chronic high-risk conditions, Skymed has insurance for emergency air transport between hospitals in the US and Mexico. Short-term policies exist for trips between 4-14 days. Frequent travelers or longer-term visitors should consider policies for 1, 3 and 5 years.

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How do I pay for medical services?

When you are admitted to private medical care in Mexico, you will need to pay upfront for services, and get reimbursement from your insurance carrier on your return.

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Are there private clinics in the Yucatan?

The top resorts in the Yucatan tend to have doctors on staff. However, if a visit to a hospital is required, private clinics are recommended. Most of the doctors in these clinics have been trained in the US and English is commonly spoken.

In Cancun, the recommended clinics are American Medical Care Center, believed to accept American medical insurance, Amerimed American Hospital, the first chain of US hospitals in Mexico and Hospiten, an international network of private hospitals with branches in Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

In Merida, the top private hospitals are the long-established Clinica de Merida, Centro Medica de Las Americas and the relatively new Star Medica.

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Emergency Phone Numbers The private English speaking clinics have emergency ambulances. Otherwise the central phone numbers for medical emergencies in the Yucatan are:
  • 060 for Cancun, and
  • 066 for Merida.

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What about pharmacies in Mexico?

Most pharmacies in the towns and villages stay open 24 hours. Many travelers seek to buy prescription medication in Mexico as the prices are generally lower.

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What do I need to know about buying medicines in Mexico?

The quality of the pharmaceuticals has been called into question; shop smart by buying brand names, even if for less of a discount, from large chain store pharmacies. Just be aware the US border officials may come down hard on large quantities of prescription drugs unless you have a doctor’s letter on hand.

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An Ounce of Prevention...What Should I Do Before Leaving Home?

Here are a few useful tips before leaving home:

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Can I Drink the Water

The quality of water in Mexico has improved significantly. Drinking only bottled purified water is still recommended and many bars and restaurants have taken to using bottled water to make ice. With a few pre-travel basics taken care of, you can count on excellent medical care in Mexico should you need it.

For more information on drinking water in Mexico, click here.

The right tool for the right job! If you really want to be sure your water is safe, take along a portable water purifier. More reliable than tablets and without the clorine taste. The SteriPEN, for example, is a handheld "pen" that will purify 16 oz of water in 45 secs.

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Conclusions...and Another Great Online Resource

Finding the answers to all you medical FAQs will help you plan for a healthy worry-free trip through Mexico and the Yucatan.

The recent Swine Flu scare has abated. The CDC and the US State Department have lifted their travel advisories and no longer recommend restrictions on travel. Nevertheless, older travelers may wish to keep themselves informed about current health concerns.

Also, quite apart from the swine flu, there are still inoculations and other preventative measures we all should know about.

The best online source of health-related information we have found for travelers to Mexico is MDTravelHealth.com. You should be able to find answers to all FAQs here.

This is a terrific resource where you can keep yourself abreast of both normal medical recommendations and breaking news about current medical "hotspots" (there basically aren't any at the moment, Gracias a Dios!).

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