Ensure you are protected against measles and polio before going overseas

A statement from Professor Paul Kelly, Australian Government Chief Medical Officer, outlining the importance of vaccination against measles and polio.

Date published:
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General public

Australians travelling overseas over the festive period are urged to understand the health risks associated with any countries they are planning to visit, and in particular, consider the risks posed by measles and polio.

People should ensure they are fully immunised against measles and polio before travelling to any country in which the highly infectious diseases are present.

Measles and polio are found in numerous countries popular with Australian tourists – and it is concerning that immunisation coverage rates have fallen in some of these destinations.

Countries in which measles is commonly found include India, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Thailand. It is also widespread in some Middle Eastern countries and across Africa. Outbreaks have occurred in Europe, the UK, and North and South America in recent years. 

If you travel to a country where measles is present and you are not fully immunised, you risk catching the disease, and spreading it – and severe illness – to others.

Two doses of measles-containing vaccine delivers lifelong protection against the disease in 99 per cent of vaccinated people – and people who have previously been infected are also immune.

Polio remains endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan – and a further 33 countries have experienced outbreaks in 2022. 

Vaccination against polio is recommended every 10 years for adults at higher risk of exposure to the disease.

Your vaccination status may be recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register – and your doctor can provide advice on whether you need to get vaccinated against measles or polio.

For information about measles, polio and getting vaccinated, please visit the Department of Health and Aged Care website.

For specific advice related to your travel destination, please visit the Australian Government Smart Traveller website.


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