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Vaccines needed for travel
If you travel outside Australia, you may get sick from a number of diseases that vaccination can prevent. Travellers can bring these diseases into Australia when they return and cause disease outbreaks.
You should always ask your doctor or travel health clinic about vaccinations before you travel.
Your immunity to some diseases may have changed or reduced with time – you may need a booster.
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 to get vaccinated
You should consult your doctor or visit a travel health clinic 6 to 12 weeks before you leave Australia.
It is important to see your doctor early. If you do need vaccinations:
- your body needs time to develop full immunity
- you may need several doses of a vaccine to achieve full immunity.
Cost of vaccines
The vaccines you need for travel may not be covered by the National Immunisation Program. In this case, you will need to buy them. This may involve:
- getting a prescription for the vaccine
- buying it from a pharmacy
- returning to your doctor to give you the vaccination.
The cost of vaccines varies depending on the type, the formula and where you buy them.
Some doctors might have these vaccines available in their clinics. Some pharmacies also offer vaccination services.
Check with your provider when you book your appointment.
How to stay safe overseas
The vaccine information you find on various websites is only a guide. You should not rely on such information. Talk to your doctor or travel health clinic for advice on travel vaccines and how to stay safe while you are overseas.
Find more information:
- Travel Health Information for things to consider before you leave, while you are away and when you return.
- Smartraveller (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade)
- Travellers’ health (US Center for Disease Control & Prevention)
Keep routine vaccinations up to date
Travel is an important time to check whether you and your children are up to date with your vaccinations. This includes routine childhood vaccinations and boosters. Some of these include:
- measles-mumps-rubella (MMR)
- diphtheria-tetanus-whooping cough (pertussis)
- chickenpox (varicella)
Influenza is the most common vaccine-preventable disease caught by travellers.
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.
Get more about information about routine vaccinations:
Diseases to be aware of
Some countries require proof of immunisation for certain infectious diseases before you can legally enter that country. Ask your doctor or travel health clinic if you need proof of immunisation before you travel.
Read about some of the common vaccine-preventable diseases found in other areas of the world.
Cholera is found in places with poor water and waste facilities. It spreads through contaminated food and water and causes severe diarrhoea and dehydration.
Humanitarian disaster workers should get vaccinated for cholera because they are more likely to get infected. Most travellers do not need a cholera vaccination because the risk of getting cholera is very low.
Your doctor may recommend the cholera vaccine if you have a condition that puts you at greater risk of travellers’ diarrhoea.
Hepatitis A is one of the most common vaccine-preventable diseases caught by travellers. It is a liver disease spread by contaminated food and water. It is common in parts of India, Africa, Asia, South and Central America and the Middle East where there is poor sanitation and limited access to clean water.
You and your children over 1 year of age should get a Hepatitis A vaccination if you are travelling to an area where Hepatitis A is common.
Japanese encephalitis is a serious disease spread by mosquitoes in Asia and the Torres Strait region of Australia. We recommend vaccination against this disease if you are travelling to these parts and will be:
- travelling in rural areas
- undertaking certain activities with increased risk of exposure
- spending a month or more in the region.
You should avoid mosquito bites when you are in these areas.
Meningococcal disease is a serious disease spread by close contact with an infected person. It is commonly found in sub-Saharan Africa.
Rabies is common to Central and South America, Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia. It is spread from infected animals to humans through bites, scratches and licks to open wounds. It is fatal when left untreated. The animal does not have to appear ill to have rabies. Infected animals can include dogs, monkeys, cats, rats, bats, foxes and chipmunks.
Ask your doctor if you need the rabies vaccine before you travel.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a serious disease spread by close contact with an infected person. It is common in developing countries.
We recommend the TB vaccine called BCG for children aged 5 years or under who are:
- travelling a lot
- spending a long time in countries where TB is common.
Typhoid is a disease spread through contaminated food and water. It causes diarrhoea and other symptoms. It is common in parts of India, Africa, Asia, South and Central America and the Middle East where there is poor sanitation and limited access to clean water.
Yellow fever can be a serious disease. It causes fever, yellowing of the skin (jaundice) and damages the liver and kidneys. Mosquitoes spread yellow fever. It is found in Africa, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
You must be immunised for yellow fever before you can legally enter some countries. Only authorised yellow fever vaccination centres can give yellow fever vaccinations and certification. Ask your doctor about this.
Find more information: Yellow fever fact sheet