What vaccines do you need for travel?
If you travel outside Australia, you may get sick from a number of diseases that are preventable by vaccination.
Different vaccines are needed for certain countries. There is no standard immunisation schedule that will suit all travellers. The recommended vaccines for travelling depend on a number of factors. These include your age, pregnancy or planning pregnancy, underlying medical conditions, vaccination history, location and season of travel.
When should you get vaccinated?
You should consult your doctor or visit a travel health clinic six to 12 weeks before you leave Australia.
It is important that you don’t wait until the last minute to visit your doctor to discuss what vaccines you need for your trip. You might need a number of doses of a particular vaccine and you might need time after immunisation for your body to develop full immunity.
How do you find out more about staying safe overseas?
The vaccine information provided on various websites that show vaccine information by country is a guide only and should not be used instead of talking with your doctor or travel health clinic.
For information on things to consider before you leave, while you are away, and when you return, see Travel Health Information.
The websites below also provide information about vaccinations and tips for staying healthy while overseas:
- Smartraveller (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade)
- Travellers’ health (US Center for Disease Control & Prevention)
What else can you do prepare for your trip?
Travel is an important time to check whether you and your children are up to date with your vaccinations. These can be routine childhood vaccinations and boosters.
Some of these include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR), diphtheria-tetanus-whooping cough (pertussis), polio, chickenpox (varicella) and influenza. The chance of getting these diseases may be greater while travelling overseas. These diseases can be brought into Australia by travellers. This can lead to disease outbreaks.
The flu (influenza) is the most common disease preventable by vaccination that is caught by travellers.
For more about these vaccinations see:
- National Immunisation Program Schedule
- Immunisation for children
- Immunisation for adults
- Immunisation for seniors
What if you have been vaccinated against these diseases already?
Even if you have been vaccinated for certain diseases in the past, you should still check with your doctor or travel health clinic. Your immunity to some diseases may have changed or reduced with time and you may need a booster. Also, depending on your age and where you were born, you may not be protected against some diseases.
What diseases should you be aware of?
Listed below is a brief overview about some infectious diseases.
Some countries require proof of immunisation for some infectious diseases before you enter that country. Check with your doctor or travel health clinic.
Cholera is can be found in places with poor water and waste services. It is spread through contaminated food or water a disease and causes severe diarrhoea and dehydration.
The risk of acquiring cholera in general is very low so cholera vaccination is not routinely required for most travellers. It is recommended for travellers like humanitarian disaster workers because they are at greater risk of being infected.
The cholera vaccine may also be recommended for people with certain conditions that put them at greater risk of travellers’ diarrhoea.
Hepatitis A is one of the most common diseases preventable by vaccination in travellers. It is a disease of the liver that is spread by contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A is common in developing countries that have poor sanitation and limited access to clean water. It is common in parts of India, Africa, Asia, South and Central America and the Middle East.
Hepatitis A vaccination is recommended for all travellers aged one year and more who are travelling to countries where hepatitis A is common.
Japanese encephalitis is a serious disease spread by mosquitoes throughout Asia and in the Torres Strait region of Australia.
Vaccination is recommended for travellers to Asia and Papua New Guinea who are travelling in rural areas, undertaking certain activities or are spending a month or more in the region. Avoiding mosquito bites is also important.
Meningococcal disease is a severe disease that is spread by close contact with an infected person. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa.
Rabies is a disease that is spread through a bite, scratch or lick on an open wound from an infected animal. Dogs and monkeys pose a particular risk in some countries, however cats, rats, bats, foxes, chipmunks and other animals can also be infected and pass it on to people. The animal does not have to appear ill to have rabies.
Rabies is present in many countries worldwide. Rabies is common to Central and South America, Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia.
Without appropriate treatment, rabies is fatal. Speak to you doctor about the prevention and treatment of rabies, including if you should have a rabies vaccination before you travel.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a severe disease that is spread by close contact with an infected person. TB is common in developing countries.
The TB vaccine called BCG is recommended for children aged five years or less who are travelling a lot or for an extended period to countries where TB is common.
Typhoid is a disease spread through contaminated food or water that causes diarrhoea and other symptoms. Typhoid is common in developing countries that have poor sanitation and limited access to clean water. It is common in parts of India, Africa, Asia, South and Central America and the Middle East.
Yellow fever can be a severe disease. It causes fever, yellowing of your skin (jaundice) and organs like the liver and kidneys to not work properly. It is spread by mosquitoes. Yellow fever is present in Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America.
Immunisation for yellow fever is a legal requirement for entry into some countries. Yellow fever vaccination and certification can only be given by an authorised Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre.
See the Yellow fever fact sheet for further information about the disease and authorised Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres.