Before travelling to China you may need vaccinations against diseases that are prevalent in the country. This could be in addition to boosters from the childhood immunization program if you are not sure you are fully up to date with your childhood vaccinations. You should speak to the doctor about what vaccinations you have had, and your travel plans, as well as reading the general advice below. This information is general advice only and will not be a substitute for speaking to the Travel Vaccination Clinic or your own doctor and does not take into account your specific needs and travel plans. You should use this information as a guide for starting the conversation with your Travel Vaccination Clinic doctor.
What vaccinations do I need for China?
When travelling to China you may need vaccinations against the following diseases, or preventative medication, outside of the usual childhood immunization schedule.
For more information on each disease and protection against it, see the relevant section.
Hepatitis A and Typhoid
Hepatitis A can be contracted through contaminated food or water, which can occur while travelling throughout China. Symptoms may include yellow or jaundiced eyes as well as normal flu-like symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, tiredness etc. Vaccination against Hepatitis A is recommended when travelling to China, and this can be administered in a single shot along with the Typhoid vaccine.
Do I need a Typhoid vaccination for travel to China?
Typhoid occurs through consuming contaminated food or water, and the vaccine is particularly recommended for those visiting friends or relatives while in China, or spending an extended period of time in the country. Those who eat local produce or are ‘adventurous’ eaters should also consider the vaccination.
The Travel Vaccination Clinic doctor can discuss the vaccine for Hepatitis A and Typhoid with you and ensure you are up to date and protected before travelling to China.
There is an area of China, Xinjiang province, where Polio can occur. Even if you were vaccinated against Polio as a child, you may need an additional dose to ensure you are adequately protected. The additional dose as an adult should last for the rest of your life and the doctor can advise you further on this if you plan on travelling to Xinjiang province.
It is recommended to get the Hepatitis B vaccine before travelling to China if you are likely to have sex with a new partner, get a tattoo or piercing or be exposed to needles for any reason. Hepatitis B is passed on through bodily fluid exchange.
Japanese Encephalitis, a mosquito borne illness, can be contracted in China, though it is not present in Xizang (Tibet), Xinjiang, and Qinghai. Cases are mostly reported from the Chongqing, Guizhou, Shaanxi, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces, and mostly from June through October. The vaccine may be recommended if you intend to spend a long time in China (more than one month) and/or will be spending a lot of time in rural areas outside of major cities. The Travel Vaccination Clinic doctor can let you know whether the vaccine is recommended for you and answer any questions you may have about the vaccine.
The vaccine is not routinely recommended if travel is restricted to Beijing or other major cities in China.
You may be at increased risk of contracting Malaria while in China if you will be spending time in rural areas, or potentially sleeping outside. To reduce risk when travelling in China you should avoid mosquito bites by using repellent, wearing appropriate long, loose clothing and using a mosquito net. The Travel Vaccination Clinic doctor can advise you whether you should have antimalarial medication with you when you travel, and whether you should take medication before, during and after your trip.
Rabies – avoid contact with animals
The rabies virus is present in China, and can be transmitted to humans through dog bites or bites from bats or other mammals, so contact with animals is to be avoided while in China. If you will be doing outdoor activity such as camping, caving, hiking or similar or if you will be working with animals in China, such as in a veterinary surgery or as a researcher, then you may be recommended the preventative vaccine.
If you will be moving to China or travelling extensively throughout the country the vaccine may also be recommended for you. Children are also at risk of dog or mammal bites and may not always report instances of contact with animals, so care should be taken to ensure children also avoid contact with animals.
Other health risks while travelling in China – H1N1, pollution and HFMD
Certain other health risks may be present during your travels through China.
While travelling through China you may also be exposed to Avian Influenza, or H1N1 and human deaths from the Avian Flu have been reported in China. If you are intending to move to China or spend an extended period of time there, you may be want to ensure you have access to antiviral medication. You should discuss your travel plans and the risks associated with Avian Influenza with the Travel Vaccination Clinic for further advice if travelling to China.
HFMD – Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease
Outbreaks of HFMD can occur in China and elsewhere in Asia, particularly between March and October. The illness may cause fever and blisters around the hands, feet and butt. Transmission occurs through bodily discharges (nose mouth and faeces) so you should practice normal hygiene precautions and regular diligent hand washing to reduce the risk of infection.
HIV/Aids is a concern in China, in particular in regional areas where there is increased risk of contact with contaminated blood or products. Anyone travelling to China should always specifically request sterilized equipment be used during any procedure.
Pollution can be a concern in China’s major cities, particularly for children, the elderly and those with respiratory problems. If you are concerned and visiting China you should seek medical advice and follow the advice of local authorities on how to reduce exposure on high pollution days.
Is yellow fever present in China?
There is no risk of contracting yellow fever in China, but the Chinese government may require proof you have been vaccinated if you arrive from a country with a risk of yellow fever. The Travel Vaccination Clinic doctor can assist you to decide whether you need to produce proof of vaccination against yellow fever – and short airport transits do not usually constitute a risk.