Travel vaccinations

A hand with a syringe and in the background a globe riddled with other syringes

If we’ve learnt anything from the pandemic, it’s that vaccines are largely seen as a key way of defending yourself against existing diseases. While in Australia, emerging cases of preventable diseases like polio are nothing more than a historical footnote, unfortunately some countries are still facing endemic outbreaks. 

As a consequence, you might be required to be vaccinated against certain diseases, depending on where you’re heading. Some countries won’t even let you in if you can’t provide proof of your vaccination history or immunity.

While at the moment you can’t leave Australia without showing proof of your COVID-19 vaccination status, some countries also require you to present your International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate (ICVC), or a valid medical exemption, at the border.

In this guide we’ll explain which vaccinations are required for country-specific travel, as well as those that are recommended for travel generally. We’ll also look at how being unvaccinated against certain diseases might even affect the way your travel insurance provider treats your claims.

Is it mandatory to get vaccines for travel?

Depending on the country in question, specific vaccines may be strongly recommended, or even required. For example, many countries require yellow fever vaccination before entering. Not only does that protect you against contracting the disease, it also helps to stop the spread within their own borders. 

First off, always check with your doctor regarding which vaccinations you should get. Don’t always take what you read on the web as gospel. But, according to the Australian Department of Health, you should make sure your routine vaccinations are up to date, including:

  • Measles-mumps-rubella (MMR)
  • Diphtheria-tetanus-whooping cough (pertussis)
  • Polio
  • Chickenpox (varicella)
  • Influenza

The Department of Health also reports that different countries require different vaccinations, which depend on factors like:

  • Age
  • Pregnancy status
  • Pre-existing medical conditions
  • How recently you were last vaccinated 
  • Birthplace
  • Location
  • Season of travel

What vaccines do I need to travel?

The vaccines that you will need to travel depend on several factors, like your vaccination history, if you’re in a high-risk category (based on things like age and your planned activities), and if the country in question requires it. To find out which vaccines you’ll need to travel to a specific country, consult your doctor, as they’ll be able to give you the right recommendations for your individual needs.

Some of the more commonly recommended vaccines are for diseases like:

  • Cholera
  • Hepatitis A
  • Japanese Encephalitis 
  • Meningococcal 
  • Rabies
  • Tuberculosis 
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow fever

Destinations that require vaccines

Generally speaking, it depends where you’re going inside a country. But we’ve compiled a list of common destinations and which vaccines are usually recommended. 

Bali/Indonesia

If you’re travelling to Bali, you may need the following vaccinations:

  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Influenza
  • Typhoid

Brazil

For Brazil, you may need to be vaccinated against:

  • Yellow fever

Cambodia

Those travelling to Cambodia may need to be vaccinated against:

  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Influenza
  • Typhoid
  • Japanese Encephalitis

China

If you’re travelling over to China, then you should consider the following vaccines:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Influenza
  • Typhoid
  • Rabies
  • Japanese and tick-borne
  • Encephalitis

Fiji

If you’re off to Fiji, then the commonly recommended vaccine coverage is for:

  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Influenza
  • Typhoid

India

If you’re travelling to India, then you may be recommended anti-Malarial drugs, as well as vaccines for:

  • Rabies
  • Japanese Encephalitis

Nepal

If you’re travelling to Nepal, the recommended vaccines include:

  • Tetanus
  • Hepatitis A
  • Typhoid

Thailand

Those heading over to Thailand are recommended to vaccinate against:

  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Influenza
  • Typhoid

Vietnam

If you’re travelling to Vietnam, then you should consider being vaccinated for: 

  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Influenza
  • Typhoid

How long before travelling should you get vaccinated?

The Department of Health recommends that you consult your doctor or health clinic six to 12 weeks before you’re slated to leave for your trip, so that you have enough time to develop immunity. 

But keep in mind, if the vaccine you’re recommended isn’t covered by the National Immunisation Program, then you may have to pay for it.

Travel vaccines and travel insurance

When it comes to your travel insurance policy, ensuring that you mitigate the risk of something going wrong is vital to not only your health, but also for any claims you might have to make. 

For example, if you end up contracting a disease on your travels and require hospitalisation and treatment, some travel insurance providers will take into account whether you have been vaccinated against that disease when you try to claim your hospital bills. 

If you haven’t mitigated your risk of hospitalisation by getting the appropriate vaccine, then your provider may reduce the amount of your claim, or even reject it. So, it’s super important that you take the appropriate precautions when getting ready for your trip. Nobody wants to be stuck with an overseas hospital bill in the potential $10,000s.

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