Available vaccines - Travel vaccinations

The following vaccinations are available for people travelling abroad.

Cholera vaccination

Vaccination against cholera isn't routinely needed for most travellers.

But in some cases it may be recommended for aid workers and people likely to have limited access to medical services – for example, people working in refugee camps or after natural disasters.

Most cases of cholera are confined to regions of the world with poor sanitation and water hygiene, such as parts of:

  • sub-Saharan Africa
  • south and southeast Asia
  • the Middle East
  • Central America and the Caribbean

The vaccine is usually given as a drink in 2 separate doses, taken 1 to 6 weeks apart.

Children aged 2 to 6 years old should have a third dose taken 1 to 6 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 revaccination is usually recommended if you have previously been vaccinated against cholera and you're 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 make sure you and your children are up-to-date with your routine vaccinations before travelling.

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.

Diphtheria is more common in parts of the world where fewer people are vaccinated, such as:

  • Africa
  • south Asia
  • the former Soviet Union

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 there are poor levels of sanitation and hygiene, and hepatitis A is common.

Ask your GP, pharmacy or travel clinic if you should have the hepatitis A vaccine if you're travelling to:

  • sub-Saharan Africa
  • Asia
  • the Middle East
  • South and Central America

The vaccination against hepatitis A is usually given as a single initial injection, with a second dose 6 to 12 months later. Two doses should protect you for at least 20 years.

You should preferably have the initial dose at least 2 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're 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'll be doing activities that increase your risk of developing the infection.

Hepatitis B is spread through blood and body fluids. Things like having sex, injecting drugs or playing contact sports on your travels can increase your risk.

Anyone travelling for long periods or who's likely to need medical care while abroad is also at increased risk.

Hepatitis B is found worldwide, but it's more common in parts of:

  • Africa
  • Asia
  • the Middle East
  • southern and eastern Europe

The hepatitis B vaccination generally involves a course of 3 injections. Depending on how quickly you need protection, these may be spread over a period as long as 6 months or as short as 3 weeks.

A combined hepatitis A and hepatitis B jab is also available if you're 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 a long stay (usually at least a month) in a country where you could get the condition.

It's particularly important if:

  • you're visiting during the rainy season or there's a year-round risk because of a tropical climate
  • you're going to visit rural areas, such as rice fields or marshlands
  • you'll be taking part in any activities that may increase your risk of becoming infected, such as cycling or camping

Japanese encephalitis is found throughout Asia and beyond. The area it's found in stretches from the western Pacific islands in the east, across to the borders of Pakistan in the west.

It's found as far north as northeastern China and as far south as the islands of the Torres Strait and Cape York in northeastern Australia.

Despite its name, Japanese encephalitis is now relatively rare in Japan because of mass immunisation programmes.

Find out more about risk areas on the Travel Health Pro website

Vaccination against Japanese encephalitis usually consists of 2 injections, with the second dose given 28 days after the first.

Ideally, you need to have the second dose a week before you leave.

Read more about the Japanese encephalitis vaccine.

Meningococcal meningitis vaccination

Vaccination against some types of 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 during the mass gatherings of Hajj or Umrah.

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 a MenACWY vaccine, also known as the quadrivalent meningococcal meningitis vaccine.

This is a single injection that should be given 2 to 3 weeks before you travel. Babies under a year old need 2 injections.

You should have the MenACWY 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.

Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination

The MMR vaccine that protects against measlesmumps and rubella is routinely given to all children in the UK. 

You should make sure you and your children are up-to-date with routine vaccinations, including MMR, before travelling.

If you haven't been fully vaccinated against these conditions or you're not already immune, you should ask about MMR vaccination before you travel.

The MMR vaccine is given as 2 injections. These are usually given when a child is 12 to 13 months old and when they start school.

But if vaccination has been missed previously, adults can have the doses 1 month apart, and children can have them 3 months apart if necessary.

You should ideally have the final dose at least 2 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 make sure you and your children are up-to-date with your routine vaccinations before travelling.

Further booster doses are usually only recommended if you're going to visit parts of the world where polio is, or has recently been, present 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 you could get rabies, particularly if:

  • you're staying for a month or more
  • there's unlikely to be quick access to appropriate medical care
  • you plan to do activities that could put you at increased risk of exposure to rabies, such as cycling or running

Rabies can be found in many parts of the world. GOV.UK provides a detailed list of countries that have rabies in domestic animals or wildlife.

Vaccination involves a course of 3 injections before you travel, usually given over a period of 28 days.

If you're bitten, licked or scratched by an animal in a country where rabies is a problem, further doses of rabies vaccine (with or without a special anti-rabies injection given around the wound) may be required as emergency treatment.

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 make sure you and your children are up-to-date with your routine vaccinations before travelling.

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, including some regions of China and Japan.

The vaccination requires a course of 3 injections for full protection. The second dose is given 1 to 3 months after the first and provides immunity for about a year.

A third dose, given 5 to 12 months after the second, provides immunity for up to 3 years.

The course can sometimes be accelerated if necessary. This involves 2 doses being given 2 weeks apart.

Booster doses of the vaccine are recommended every 3 years, if necessary.

Read more about the tick-borne encephalitis vaccine.

Tuberculosis (TB) vaccination

The BCG vaccine (which stands for Bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccine) protects against tuberculosis, which is also known as TB.

The BCG vaccine isn't given as part of the routine NHS vaccination schedule. It's given on the NHS only when a child or adult is thought to have an increased risk of coming into contact with TB.

When preparing for travel abroad, the BCG vaccine is recommended for any unvaccinated people under 16 who'll be living or working with friends, family or local people for more than 3 months in a country where TB is common or the risk of multi-drug resistant TB is high.

The BCG vaccine is given as a single injection.

Areas of the world where the risk of TB is high enough to recommend BCG vaccination for previously unvaccinated travellers include:

  • the Indian subcontinent (Bangladesh, Pakistan, India)
  • Africa
  • parts of south and southeast Asia
  • parts of South and Central America
  • parts of the Middle East

Read more about the BCG vaccine.

Typhoid vaccination

Vaccination against typhoid fever is recommended if you're travelling to parts of the world where the condition is common, particularly if you'll: 

  • have frequent or prolonged exposure to conditions where sanitation and food hygiene are likely to be poor
  • be staying or working with local people

High-risk areas include:

  • the Indian subcontinent (Bangladesh, Pakistan, India)
  • Africa
  • parts of south and southeast Asia
  • parts of South and Central America
  • parts of the Middle East

Two main vaccines are available for typhoid fever in the UK. One is given as a single injection, and the other is given as 3 capsules to take on alternate days.

It's also possible to have a combined hepatitis A and typhoid jab.

Ideally, the typhoid vaccine should be given at least 1 month before you travel, but it can be given closer to your travel date if necessary.

Booster vaccinations are recommended every 3 years if you continue to be at risk of infection.

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 getting yellow fever.

Some countries require a proof of vaccination certificate before they let you enter the country.

Yellow fever occurs in some areas of tropical Africa and Central and South America. More information about yellow fever and areas where it's found is available on Travel Health Pro.

A single dose of the yellow fever vaccine is thought to provide lifelong protection. For most people, a booster dose is no longer recommended.

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

You should be issued with an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis when you have the vaccine. This certificate is valid for life.

Read more about the yellow fever vaccine.

When to get further advice

Speak to your GP before having any vaccinations if:

  • you're pregnant
  • you're breastfeeding
  • you have an immune deficiency
  • you have any allergies

Page last reviewed: 10/12/2018
Next review due: 10/12/2021