Medical and Health

Will PCVs be required to get the COVID-19 vaccination?

We remain committed to protecting the health and safety of our Volunteers, host country staff, and host communities. To that end, the Peace Corps has determined that in the interest of health and safety of our Volunteers, staff, and the countries we serve, Invitees and Volunteers must obtain the COVID-19 vaccine and any boosters recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as a requirement for medical clearance for service.

Will the COVID-19 vaccination be a requirement for Peace Corps service going forward?

Yes, just as the Peace Corps requires other vaccines to help protect the health of Volunteers, the COVID-19 vaccine and appropriate boosters will now be required for medical clearance for service.

What will the Peace Corps do if a Volunteer gets COVID-19 during service?

If a Volunteer gets COVID-19 during service, the Peace Corps medical officer, with support from the Office of Health Services, will provide all necessary care. We require all Volunteers to be vaccinated in order to serve in order to reduce the risk of contracting the disease or developing serious health issues as a result of infection.

Will I have to wear a mask all the time?

Yes, Peace Corps Volunteers and Trainees will be expected to wear a mask when they are around other people in settings where social distancing is difficult or impossible. All Volunteers and Trainees will be provided with masks, and are required to have a mask with them at all times. Invitees, Trainees, and Volunteers will receive more specific guidance from Peace Corps personnel as they move through preparation, travel, training, and service.

Do Volunteers get health insurance during Peace Corps service?

The Peace Corps provides appropriate and necessary health care to Volunteers during their service. Visit Medical Care During Service to learn more. After service, the Peace Corps pays for one month of health-care coverage under Short-term Health Insurance for Transition and Travel and returned Volunteers may purchase up to two more months of additional coverage. Federal retirees may suspend federal employee health benefits during service. (Talk with your retirement office to ensure that the suspension is done in a way that permits re-enrollment.) For individuals with Medicare, check with your Medicare office to find out if payments will continue to be deducted from your Social Security payment while you serve. You can cancel Medicare Part B (so you don’t have to pay the monthly premiums during your service) and re-enroll without penalty when you return to the U.S., as long as you submit the re-enrollment form prior to your close of service.

What if I have a medical condition or am in a group that is considered high risk by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? Will I be able to medically clear?

As the Peace Corps resumes operations, we are committed to facilitating the service of Volunteers as safely as possible. All Peace Corps applicants are given an individualized medical clearance assessment. That assessment is based on various factors, including the applicant’s current state of health, data from the CDC concerning risk factors for severe COVID-19 illness, and the health resources and capabilities available in our host countries.

Depending on the country and projected date of entry on duty, applicants who have one or more conditions that place them at high-risk for serious COVID-19 disease may not be medically cleared to serve at this time. This reflects guidance from the CDC that older adults and people with serious underlying medical conditions should avoid situations that put them at increased risk for being exposed to COVID-19, which includes avoiding crowds, non-essential air travel, areas with high numbers of COVID-19 cases, and close contact with others who are not fully vaccinated.

Please see the following from the CDC to see if you fall into a high risk category, or for information on risk of severe illness from COVID-19 by age:

The CDC’s guidance continues to evolve because much is still unknown about the disease and the immunity provided by vaccinations, and because the science around COVID-19 is changing rapidly. The Peace Corps continues to monitor CDC guidance, emerging scientific evidence, and the conditions and health resources in our countries of service to ensure that our medical clearance process results in placing Volunteers where they can serve as safely as possible.

I have a specific medical condition. Will it impact my ability to serve or where I am placed?

It may. Peace Corps Volunteers serve around the world in physically, emotionally, and mentally challenging environments where medical resources and the ability to access medical services differ significantly from the U.S. The medical history of each applicant is considered individually to determine the ability of the Peace Corps to safely meet their medical needs in their country of service.

To learn more about medical considerations, please read important Medical Information for Applicants. If you apply, you must fully disclose your medical history so Peace Corps can consider your health needs. 

What are the current expectations and qualifications for a new applicant in regards to recent counseling/therapy sessions?

Current/past engagement in counseling alone is not a reason for medical non-clearance to Peace Corps service. Each applicant will have an individualized assessment to determine whether or not their mental health needs can be accommodated in their country of service.

Does the Peace Corps reimburse for costs incurred during the medical clearance process?

The Peace Corps reimburses certain medical expenses incurred during the medical review process.

The number of tasks that are requested of you during the medical clearance process varies significantly based upon your medical history and requirements from host countries. Yellow fever and polio booster vaccinations are fully reimbursable if required for your country of service. Peace Corps will provide all other necessary vaccinations upon your arrival in country.

What is involved in the medical review process?

The medical review will require a dental and physical evaluation, lab work, and selected immunizations. Depending on a person's age and sex, the medical review may also include additional exams. We require that all necessary dental work be completed (wisdom teeth extracted (if recommended), cavities filled, braces removed, etc.) in order to give final clearance to serve abroad. For more information, please go to the Medical Information for Applicants page.

I have questions during my medical review process. Who should I ask?

If you have medical questions, please message your nurse through the "Messages" feature in your Medical Portal. Your nurse is the most familiar with your medical history and will be able to give you the best answer. If you are experiencing technical difficulties, please contact the Pre-Service Admin Team by emailing [email protected] or calling 202-692-1504.

I have received an invitation to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer; does this mean I'm medically cleared to serve?

No, invitations to serve as a Peace Corps Volunteer are contingent on final medical clearance. A nurse will review your health history and your medical considerations and determine if you can be medically cleared. Please respond to all requests for information and activities by any deadlines so that your clearance process is not delayed. Before you are notified of your medical clearance, please do not make big life changes such as quitting your job or selling your home.

I previously applied and turned in a Health History Form (HHF) and/or medical forms. Do I need to redo medical clearance?

Your HHF usually does not expire if you are reapplying within a year of the date of submission. If you are reapplying within this time frame and you have medical updates, you may provide them via the Medical Portal.

As for your medical tasks, your medical exams should satisfy your medical clearance requirement as long as you are re-invited to another program that starts within 6 months of the completion date. When you reapply, please contact your nurse for questions regarding your medical clearance status. Since different countries have different medical clearance requirements, we cannot give you more specific guidance on what medical tasks you will need to complete in order to re-enroll.

How can I submit medical documents for review?

The best way to submit documents for review is to upload them to your Medical Portal when your tasks have been provided. If you are having a hard time uploading your documents, please check out our Upload Tips [PDF]. If you continue to experience technical difficulties, you may contact us at [email protected] or at 202-692-1504.

Can I complete the medical clearance process while abroad?

It is possible to complete your medical and dental clearance forms abroad. However, the process can be more complicated. Please consider these guidelines when completing your forms:

  1. All reports and information must be submitted in English by a doctor who writes in English. If you cannot find a doctor who writes in English, you must have the results of your exam translated. Only certified translations will be accepted, and you are responsible for the cost associated with translating the information.
  2. U.S. Embassies, Consulates, and Peace Corps Medical Officers (PCMOs) in Peace Corps countries may be able to make a referral to appropriate physicians or lab facilities for you to complete your tasks. PCMOs are not authorized to perform applicant physical exams due to conflict of interest.
  3. Just as with domestic applicants, it is your responsibility to proofread all forms in order to ensure accuracy and completeness. All completed exams, lab reports and X-rays can be uploaded into your Medical Portal. If you are having a hard time uploading your documents, please check out our Upload Tips [PDF].
  4. When using the cost-share form, please convert all costs from foreign currency to U.S. dollars.
I can’t meet the deadline for submitting my tasks. What will happen?

Please complete your tasks as soon as possible. If you do not complete your tasks by the deadline, your invitation to serve may be revoked. If you are worried you may not meet your deadline, please message your nurse through the Medical Portal so they can see if an extension is possible. Please note that an extension is not guaranteed.

How can I appeal a medical determination of not being medically cleared for service?

You may appeal this decision to the Peace Corps by sending a message requesting an appeal through your Medical Portal. Please let us know within 5 calendar days of receiving the decision if you are requesting an appeal. Less than 10% of appeals are reversed and the decision may not occur before your departure date.

Upon receiving your request, an “appeal task” will be posted on your portal. At that time, you will have up to 30 days to upload any relevant information about your medical condition you would like considered in connection with your appeal. If you do not submit new information by the deadline, your request for an appeal will be withdrawn and your case will be closed.

Please be aware that, even if your appeal is successful with respect to the medical condition for which you were not medically cleared, you may have other medical conditions that we have not yet fully evaluated that might preclude you from being medically cleared for Peace Corps service.