India is an exciting, culturally diverse country covering a huge area, so it is understandable that while you are there you will want to explore the local surrounds and sample local cuisine. To ensure your trip is safe as well as exciting, we’ve prepared a guide to some common health concerns you should discuss with the Travel Vaccination Clinic before leaving for India.
In India the key recommendations for travellers are that you
- Ensure all childhood vaccinations are up to date
- Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and typhoid or ensure that you are up to date with these
- Consider getting the yearly flu shot; and
- Follow strict hygiene procedures when it comes to eating and drinking the local food and water and avoid mosquito bites whenever possible
You can read our tips on healthy travel to find out more about protecting yourself from common health concerns including cholera, travelers’ diarrhea and water borne infectious diseases. *
For more information on the childhood vaccination program, which should include vaccinations against polio, tetanus, measles, mumps and rubella, diphtheria, and hepatitis B (but not hepatitis A) you should arrange a consult with the Travel Vaccination Clinic, especially if you are not originally from Australia or you are unsure of your vaccination history. In particular if you have not been vaccinated against polio or hepatitis B as a child or since very young the doctor may recommend an additional dose before you travel to India. This is something that can only be determined after a consultation.
Preventable disease risk for travelers in India
Apart from diseases covered by the childhood vaccination program, if you plan to travel to India there are certain disease risks you should be aware of. The main ones are mentioned below and if you need advice on any of these, or a vaccination or prescription, the Travel Vaccination Clinic can assist. We can also advise on the best course of action for your individual situation after a consult.
Unlike hepatitis B Hepatitis A is not included in the childhood immunization schedule in Australia and there is a risk of infection through contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A can be easily spread because of this and it can be extremely difficult to ensure you are not exposed to the virus through contaminated produce (food), water or milk.
Should I get vaccinated against hepatitis A before going to India?
It is generally recommended that you get vaccinated against hepatitis A before traveling to India. In addition, a booster 6-12 months later will provide 20 year immunity against Hepatitis A
The typhoid vaccine is recommended for travel to India, and typhoid may be passed on through eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. Around 50-70 people return to Australia from their travels with typhoid each year, and symptoms may take up to two weeks to appear.
Should I get vaccinated against typhoid before going to India?
The typhoid vaccine is especially recommended for those staying with people living in India, visiting rural areas or smaller cities and adventurous eaters. You can be vaccinated against typhoid orally or through needle injection and it can be against typhoid alone or typhoid and hepatitis A at the same time. The doctor can recommend and administer the right vaccine for you.
Mosquito borne illnesses in India
When travelling through India you may be exposed to a number of mosquito-borne illnesses including malaria, dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis. Some mosquito borne illnesses can be vaccinated against but others cannot. Measures to help avoid bites include using repellant, mosquito nets or air-conditioning at night, trying to wear long, loose fitting clothing and helping children avoid excessive mosquito bites. Avoiding bites will help lower your risk of contracting a mosquito-borne illness while in India.
There is a malaria risk throughout the whole country below 2000m and our doctors will discuss the relative risks based on your specific itinerary..
Should I take anti-malarial tablets for travel to India?
When it comes to malaria it is important that you discuss the best course of action for you to take with a qualified Travel Vaccination Clinic doctor. It may also be recommended that you take medication with you in case of infection, but you may not need to take it before leaving. Malaria is a complex mosquito borne illness with various strands and drugs available. Different medications may not be able to be taken by people with depression or other illnesses either, so it is essential to have a proper conversation with the doctor about this before requesting medication.
Dengue fever is also present in India and is transmitted by mosquito bites. There is no specific vaccine against it, but following the healthy travel advice on this website and avoiding mosquito bites should help reduce your risk of contracting this flu-like virus.
Japanese encephalitis can be passed on through mosquito bites and depending on exactly where in India you are travelling and the time of year there may be a risk of infection. Most cases in Indian states are reported between May and October and a vaccine is available.
Should I get vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis before going to India?
Even on a short trip of less than one month you should consider this vaccine if you will be spending a lot of time outdoors or in rural areas, or sleeping in accommodation without air-conditioning and mosquito nets during the night. The doctor will be able to determine your level of risk and recommend whether you need this vaccination.
At present half the world’s rabies cases occur in India. You should consider a preventative or pre-exposure vaccine against rabies if your trip will involve outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, caving or adventure sports or if you plan to stay for an extended period or work with animals. Rabies is present in India and can be transmitted through bats, dogs and other mammals. Children are also at higher risk of animal bites after playing with animals and because they may not report small bites.
Should I get vaccinated against rabies before going to India?
The rabies pre-exposure vaccine may not be recommended for short stays, depending on where you are going and what you plan to do, so speak to the doctor about the individual risks you face. Avoiding contact with animals will help reduce risk of infection.
While there is no risk of yellow fever within India itself, the Indian government takes any reported infection in other countries seriously and depending on where you travel before and entering, you may need proof you have not contracted yellow fever and are protected in the form of a certificate. In 2010 the recommendations on a number of countries particularly concentrated in The Americas and Africa were updated. Popular destinations including Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia in the Americas and Kenya, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana and Guinea among others are considered countries with a risk of infection. If you have any concerns at all or are visiting a number of countries on your trip you should discuss this with the doctor.
Persons who arrive from a high-risk country without a vaccination certificate will be detained in India for 6 days unless arriving on an excluded insect-controlled flight.
*Please note that all advice on this website is general advice only and is no substitute for medical advice. It is highly recommended that you seek a medical consultation with the doctor before deciding what vaccinations to get or to discuss general advice you may have read elsewhere.