Travel vaccinations - Vaccinations 

  • Overview

Vaccinations for travellers abroad 

Where further advice is required

Speak to your GP before having any vaccinations if:

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Travel vaccines information

Read more about the vaccines used to protect people travelling abroad

The following vaccinations are available for people travelling abroad:

Cholera vaccination

Vaccination against cholera is recommended for travellers to areas where the infection is widespread, particularly for aid workers and people likely to have limited access to medical services.

Most cases of cholera are confined to regions of the world with poor sanitation and water hygiene, such as parts of sub-Saharan Africa, the Indian subcontinent, South East Asia, the Middle East and South America.

The vaccine is usually given as a drink in two separate doses, taken one to six weeks apart (children aged two to six should have a third dose taken one to six weeks after the second dose). You should make sure you have the final dose of this vaccine at least a week before you travel.

A single booster dose or full re-vaccination is usually recommended if you have previously been vaccinated against cholera and you are planning to travel to an area where the infection is common.

Read more about the cholera vaccine.

Diphtheria vaccination

A combined vaccination that protects against diphtheria, polio and tetanus is routinely given to all children in the UK. You should ensure you and your children are up to date with your routine vaccinations before you travel.

Further booster doses are usually only recommended if you're going to visit parts of the world where diphtheria is widespread and your last vaccination dose was more than 10 years ago.

Areas with high rates of diphtheria include sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia, South America and the Indian subcontinent.

Additional doses of the vaccination are given in a single 3-in-1 Td/IPV (tetanus, diphtheria and polio) injection.

Read more about the diphtheria travel vaccine.

Hepatitis A vaccination

Vaccination against hepatitis A is recommended if you're travelling to countries where hepatitis A is widespread, particularly if you are staying for a prolonged period or you are staying somewhere with poor levels of sanitation and hygiene.

Areas with a high risk of hepatitis A include Africa, the Far East, eastern Europe and the Indian subcontinent.

The vaccination against hepatitis A is usually given as a single initial injection, with an optional booster dose 6-12 months later that can protect you for at least 20 years if necessary. 

You should preferably have this initial dose at least two weeks before you leave, although it can be given up to the day of your departure if needed.

Jabs that offer combined protection against hepatitis A and hepatitis B or typhoid are also available if you are likely to also be at risk of these conditions.

Read more about the hepatitis A vaccine.

Hepatitis B vaccination

Vaccination against hepatitis B is recommended if you're travelling in parts of the world where hepatitis B is common, especially if you will be doing activities that increase your risk of developing the infection.

As hepatitis B is spread through blood and body fluids, activities such as having sex, injecting drugs or playing contact sports on your travels can increase your risk. Anyone travelling for long periods or who is likely to need medical care while abroad is also at increased risk. 

Hepatitis B is found worldwide, but it's more common in sub-Saharan Africa, most of Asia, the Pacific islands, parts of South America, southern parts of Eastern and Central Europe, the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent.

The hepatitis B vaccination generally involves a course of three injections. Depending on how quickly you need protection, these may be spread over a period as long as six months or as short as three weeks.

A combined hepatitis A and hepatitis B jab is also available if you are likely to be at risk of both these conditions while travelling.

Read more about the hepatitis B vaccine.

Japanese encephalitis vaccination

Vaccination against Japanese encephalitis is usually recommended if you're planning an extended stay (usually at least a month) in a country where the condition is widespread.

It's particularly important if you are visiting during the rainy season, if you are going to visit rural areas (such as rice fields or marshlands), or you will be taking part in any activities that may increase your risk of becoming infected (such as cycling or camping).

Japanese encephalitis is present across huge areas of Asia, stretching from the Pacific islands in the east to the borders of Pakistan in the west. It is found as far north as Korea and as far south as Papua New Guinea.

Vaccination against Japanese encephalitis usually consists of two injections, with the second dose given 28 days after the first. Ideally, you need to have the second dose a month before you leave.

Read more about the Japanese encephalitis vaccine.

Meningococcal meningitis vaccination

Vaccination against meningococcal meningitis is usually recommended if you're travelling to areas at risk and your planned activities put you at higher risk, for example if you're a long-term traveller who has close contact with the local population.

High-risk areas for meningococcal meningitis include parts of Africa and Saudi Arabia. All travellers to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimages are required to show proof of vaccination.

If travelling to a high-risk area, you should be vaccinated against meningococcal meningitis with an ACWY vaccine (also known as the quadrivalent meningococcal meningitis vaccine). This is given as a single injection and it should be given two to three weeks before you travel.

You should have the ACWY vaccine before travelling to high-risk areas even if you had the meningitis C vaccine as a child.

Read more about the meningococcal meningitis vaccine.

MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccination

The MMR vaccine that protects against measlesmumps and rubella is routinely given to all children in the UK. You should ensure you and your children are up to date with your routine vaccinations before you travel.

If you've not been fully vaccinated against these conditions or you're not already immune, the MMR vaccination is recommended before travelling to areas where these conditions are widespread or where there has been a recent outbreak.

The MMR vaccine is given as two injections. These are usually given when a child is 12-13 months old and when they start school. However, adults can have the two doses one month apart and children can have them three months apart if necessary.

You should ideally have the final dose at least two weeks before you leave.

Read more about the MMR vaccine.

Polio vaccination

A combined vaccination that protects against diphtheria, polio and tetanus is routinely given to all children in the UK. You should ensure you and your children are up to date with your routine vaccinations before you travel.

Further booster doses are usually only recommended if you're going to visit parts of the world where polio is widespread and your last vaccination dose was more than 10 years ago.

Currently, the condition is most common in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, but it's also a risk in other regions of the world.

Additional doses of the vaccination are given in a single 3-in-1 Td/IPV (tetanus, diphtheria and polio) injection.

Read more about the 3-in-1 Td/IPV vaccine.

Rabies vaccination

Vaccination against rabies is advised if you're travelling to an area where rabies is common in animals, particularly if you are staying for a month or more, there is limited access to medical services and you will be carrying out activities that could expose you to rabies (such as cycling or running).

Rabies can be found in many parts of the world, including the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and some parts of Eastern Europe.

Vaccination usually requires a course of three injections. The second dose is given seven days after the first and the third dose is given 14-21 days after the second.

Further doses are not usually recommended for travellers, unless it has been more than 10 years since you were first vaccinated and you are visiting an area with a high risk of rabies.

Read more about the rabies vaccine.

Tetanus vaccination

A combined vaccination that protects against diphtheria, polio and tetanus is routinely given to all children in the UK. You should ensure you and your children are up to date with your routine vaccinations before you travel.

Further booster doses are usually only recommended if you're travelling to areas where access to medical services is likely to be limited or your last vaccination dose was more than 10 years ago.

Additional doses of the vaccination are given in a single 3-in-1 Td/IPV (tetanus, diphtheria and polio) injection.

Read more about the 3-in-1 Td/IPV vaccine.

Tick-borne encephalitis vaccination

Vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) is usually recommended for anyone who plans to live or work in a high-risk area, or hike and camp in these areas during late spring or summer.

The ticks that cause TBE are mainly found in forested areas of central, eastern and northern Europe, although at-risk areas also include eastern Russia and some countries in East Asia (particularly forested regions of China and Japan).

The vaccination requires a course of three injections for full protection. The second dose is given one to three months after the first and provides immunity for about one year. A third dose, given 5-12 months after the second, provides immunity for up to three years.

The course can sometimes be accelerated if necessary. This involves two doses being given two weeks apart.

Booster doses of the vaccine are recommended every three years if necessary.

Read more about the tick-borne encephalitis vaccine.

Tuberculosis (TB) vaccination

Vaccination against tuberculosis (TB) is given to some children in the UK who are at increased risk from tuberculosis.

For travellers, the BCG vaccination (which protects against TB) is recommended for people under 16 years old who will be living or working with local people for three months or more and have not been previously vaccinated.

Parts of the world that have high rates of TB include sub-Saharan and west Africa, South East Asia, Russia, China, South America and the western Pacific region.

The BCG vaccine is given as a single injection.

Read more about the BCG vaccine.

Typhoid vaccination

Vaccination against typhoid fever is recommended if you are travelling to parts of the world where the condition is common, particularly if you will be staying or working with local people or you will have frequent or prolonged exposure to conditions where sanitation and food hygiene are likely to be poor.

High-risk areas include parts of Africa, Central America, the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, South America and South and South East Asia.

Two main vaccines are available for typhoid fever in the UK. One is given as a single injection and one is given as three capsules to take on alternate days. It is also possible to have a combined hepatitis A and typhoid jab.

Ideally, the typhoid vaccine should be given at least one month before you travel, but it can be given closer to your travel date if necessary.

The protective effect of the injectable vaccine lasts about three years. After that time, another injection is necessary. The long term protection after a booster dose is not known.

A booster dose is recommended one year after the oral vaccine unless you remain in an area of risk, when a boost at three years may be sufficient.

Read more about the typhoid vaccine.

Yellow fever vaccination

Vaccination against yellow fever is advised if you're travelling to areas where there's a risk of yellow fever transmission. Some countries require proof of vaccination certificate before they let you enter the country.

Yellow fever is most common in some areas of tropical Africa and South America.

A booster dose of the yellow fever vaccine is currently recommended every 10 years if you are still at risk. However, this is likely to change in the future as recent evidence suggests that a single dose offers life-long protection.

You must have a yellow fever vaccination at least 10 days before you travel.

Read more about the yellow fever vaccine.


 


Page last reviewed: 13/11/2013

Next review due: 13/11/2015

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Travel illnesses and vaccinations

Travel vaccinations and avoiding infectious diseases abroad, including hepatitis A, malaria, yellow fever and polio