FAQs

Medical and Health

Will Volunteers be required to get the COVID-19 vaccination and boosters?

Yes. Just as the Peace Corps requires other vaccines to help protect the health of Volunteers, host country staff, and host communities, the COVID-19 vaccine and any boosters as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are 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.

Do Volunteers get health insurance during Peace Corps service?

The Peace Corps provides necessary and appropriate 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. 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. As long as you submit the re-enrollment form prior to your close of service, 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.

If I am from a COVID-19 high risk group, will I be able to medically clear?

All Peace Corps applicants are given an individualized medical clearance assessment. Depending on current CDC guidance, scientific evidence, and host country health resources and COVID-19 vaccination rates, 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:

People with Certain Medical Conditions.

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 a wide variety of environments where medical resources and the ability to access medical services can vary significantly from those in the U.S. The medical history of each applicant is individually assessed to determine the ability of the Peace Corps to safely meet the medical needs of that applicant in their country of invitation.

If you apply, you must fully disclose your medical history so that the Peace Corps can consider your health needs.

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

Current/past engagement in counseling alone is not a reason for medical non-clearance for Peace Corps service. Just as with medical conditions, each applicant will have an individualized assessment to determine if their mental health needs can be supported during Peace Corps service.

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

Yes. The Peace Corps reimburses you for medical clearance requirements that your personal medical or dental insurance does not cover. During your medical screening process, you will be given a reimbursement form that lists medical clearance expense categories such as physical exam, dental exam, mental health exam, and others. Follow those directions and submit your reimbursement claims to our health care benefits center. The Peace Corps also has a medical billing inbox ([email protected]) to provide assistance to invitees, Volunteers, and Returned Volunteers.

It is important to understand that you will only be reimbursed for expenses that are required for your medical clearance process. This does not include treatment, just evaluations that the Peace Corps requires to conduct your medical screening and eligibility determination.

The number of tasks that are requested of you during the medical clearance process varies significantly based upon your individual medical history and the requirements from the host country where you have been invited to serve. Vaccinations that are required prior to departure for service are fully reimbursable. The 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 examination, lab work, selected immunizations, and, when indicated, a mental health assessment. We will also request personal statements related to individual conditions so we can better understand your health needs. Depending on a person's age, sex, medical and mental health conditions, the review may also include additional tasks such as a mental health evaluation, an ECG, screening for osteoporosis, cervical, breast, and/or colon cancer, as well as specialty evaluations. We generally require that all necessary dental work be completed (e.g., wisdom teeth extracted, if recommended, cavities filled, braces removed) in order to give final clearance to serve. For more information, please go to the Medical Information for Applicants page.

I have questions throughout 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 individual most familiar with your medical history and will be able to give you the best answer to your questions. 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 medical clearance. The Office of Health Services takes a comprehensive review of your individual health history and medical considerations and determines if you can be medically cleared. Please respond to all requests for information and activities by the required deadlines so that your clearance process is not delayed. Please do not make big life changes such as quitting your job or selling your home before you are notified of your medical clearance.

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 applying within a year of the date of submission. If you are applying within this timeframe 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 six months of the completion date. When you reapply, please contact your nurse for questions regarding your medical clearance status through the Medical Portal.

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.
  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, you may not be able to depart with your training class, or you may be withdrawn from the application process. If you are worried you may not meet your deadline, please message your nurse through the Medical Portal so they can see if you can depart with a later class. Please note that an extension is not guaranteed.

How can I appeal the medical determination that I am not medically cleared for service?

You may appeal this decision to the Peace Corps by sending a message requesting an appeal through your Medical Portal. You must let us know within five calendar days of receiving the official decision if you are requesting an appeal. Please be advised that, due to the comprehensive and individualized nature of our initial assessments, less than 10 percent of decisions are reversed upon appeal. Additionally, the decision may not occur before your departure date. In this case, should the decision be reversed, a new country and program of service would need to be identified.

Upon receiving your appeal request, an “appeal task” will be posted in your portal. At that time, you will have up to 30 days to upload relevant and new information about your medical condition that you would like considered in connection with your appeal. We strongly recommend submitting a provider letter or medical documentation that addresses the reasons noted in the medical non-clearance letter that you received. If you do not submit new information by the deadline, your request for an appeal will be withdrawn and your case will be closed.

The Pre-Service Review Board (PRB) is a panel of Peace Corps medical professionals, including at least one physician and two other health care professionals. These panel members are knowledgeable about the nature of the countries in which Peace Corps Volunteers serve, the scope of medical care available in those countries, and the conditions under which Volunteers live and work. They consider each individual case before them to determine whether the individual applicant is able to meet the Peace Corps’ medical status eligibility requirements.

The PRB meets on a weekly basis. On the date scheduled to review your case, the PRB will review your individual medical information, including the documentation you submitted with your original application. They will perform a close examination of your supplemental appeal information, and carefully consider it in the context of your overall medical history and physical findings.

Please be aware that even if your appeal is successful with respect to the medical condition for which you were originally not medically cleared, you may have other medical conditions not yet fully evaluated that might also preclude you from being medically cleared for Peace Corps service. It is likely that the appeal process will conclude after your scheduled departure date. If this is the case, the Placement Office would work with you to identify a new program of consideration.

Does the Peace Corps have an age cutoff for medical clearance?

The Peace Corps does not exclude healthy applicants because of their age. The Peace Corps values the knowledge, skills, and work place experience that older Volunteers bring to service. The medical evaluation process is the same regardless of an applicant’s age. All applicants undergo a comprehensive medical and dental assessment based on their personal health history and examination results. This information is used to determine if their medical and/or dental needs can be supported in the host country where they are invited to serve.

What does the Peace Corps do in case of a medical emergency?

If you suffer a medical condition that cannot be treated in-country, the Peace Corps will pay to have you transported to another country or the U.S., and will provide all necessary and appropriate care during your medical evacuation. For more information, see Medical Care During Service.