Immunisation 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. You should consult your doctor or visit a travel health clinic six to 12 weeks before you travel.
What vaccines do you need for travel?
If you travel outside Australia, you may get sick from a number of diseases that vaccination can prevent.
There is no standard immunisation schedule that will suit all travellers. Different countries have different vaccination requirements. The recommended vaccines for travelling depend on a number of factors, including:
- your age
- pregnancy or planning pregnancy
- underlying medical conditions
- vaccination history
- 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.
Don’t wait until the last minute to visit your doctor to discuss what vaccines you need for your trip. You might need several doses of a particular vaccine. You might also 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 is only a guide. You should not rely on such information. Instead, talk with your doctor or travel health clinic.
See Travel Health Information for things to consider before you leave, while you are away, and when you return.
More 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 to 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. Travellers can bring these diseases into Australia. This can lead to disease outbreaks.
The flu (influenza) is the most common vaccine-preventable disease that travellers catch.
For more about these vaccinations see:
- National Immunisation Program Schedule
- Immunisation for children
- Immunisation for adults
- Immunisation for seniors
What if you have already been vaccinated against these diseases?
Even if you have already been vaccinated for certain diseases, 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?
A brief overview of some infectious diseases is below.
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 found in places with poor water and waste services. It spreads through contaminated food or water and causes severe diarrhoea and dehydration.
The risk of acquiring cholera in general is very low. Cholera vaccination is not routinely required for most travellers. Travellers such as humanitarian disaster workers should get vaccinated because they are more likely to get infected.
If you have a condition that puts you at greater risk of travellers’ diarrhoea, your doctor may recommend the cholera vaccine.
Hepatitis A is one of the most common vaccine-preventable diseases in travellers. It is a liver disease spread by contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A is common in developing countries with 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.
All travellers aged 1 year and over who are travelling to countries where hepatitis A is common should be vaccinated.
Japanese encephalitis is a serious disease spread by mosquitoes throughout Asia and in the Torres Strait region of Australia.
We recommend vaccination for travellers to Asia and Papua New Guinea who are:
- travelling in rural areas
- undertaking certain activities
- spending a month or more in the region
Avoiding mosquito bites is also important.
Meningococcal disease is a severe disease spread by close contact with an infected person. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa.
Rabies spreads through a bite, scratch or lick on an open wound from an infected animal, such as:
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 your doctor about preventing and treating rabies. Ask if you should have a rabies vaccination before you travel.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a severe disease spread by close contact with an infected person. TB is common in developing countries.
We recommend the TB vaccine called BCG for children aged 5 years or under who are:
- travelling a lot
- going for a long time 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 with 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. Mosquitoes spread yellow fever. It is present in Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America.
You need to be immunised against yellow fever before you can legally enter some countries. Only authorised Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres can give yellow fever vaccination and certification.
See the Yellow fever fact sheet for more information.