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Vaccinations for China
Do you know what vaccinations you need?
China is a massive global hub for business and tourism that receives millions of visitors every single year. If you are planning a trip to China within the next few months, it’s important to be aware that there are some health risks associated with travel to this country.
While China is a not a high-risk destination for malaria, certain areas are associated with diseases such as cholera, dengue fever, rabies, and Japanese encephalitis. People visiting mountainous regions must also be wary of altitude sickness.
The best way to prepare for your trip to China is to visit your GP, or speak to a doctor at a travel clinic. To find out which vaccinations you may need, you can consult the following guide and use our Vaccination Checker powered by MASTA.
Which vaccinations are recommended for China?
There are several vaccines which you may consider receiving if you are going to be travelling in certain areas or participating in certain activities. Visit our Vaccine Checker for up-to-date vaccination recommendations.
Before you visit China, it is important that you check your record of routine immunisations. These are given during infancy and childhood; if you have missed any you will likely need to receive that vaccine or booster before you visit China.
China vaccinations to consider
Your travel health specialist may recommend any of the following vaccines after an individual risk assessment:
Cholera is a bacterial infection spread in the faeces of an infected person. It causes diarrhoea, nausea and stomach cramps and – left untreated – can cause severe dehydration.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection which attacks the liver, initially causing flu-like symptoms and later jaundice, itchy skin and swelling around the liver. In rare cases it can lead to serious liver complications. Like cholera, hepatitis A is spread in the faeces of an infected person.
Hepatitis B is a viral infection which attacks the liver. It is spread in blood and bodily fluids. Most adults infected with the virus recover without experiencing symptoms. However in some people, hepatitis B can become chronic and lead to serious complications such cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection carried by mosquitoes. In most people it causes mild flu-like symptoms – or no symptoms at all. In some cases, however, it can become life-threatening; when the virus spreads to the brain it can cause seizures and paralysis.
Rabies is a viral infection spread to humans through the scratch or bite of an infected animal (usually a dog but can be other animals such as bats, cats and monkeys). It is nearly always fatal, particularly after the victim displays symptoms. Getting bitten by a rabid animal always requires emergency treatment.
Tetanus is a bacterial infection which causes painful muscle spasms and stiffness. Tetanus bacteria are found in soil and animal manure; they can get into the skin through open wounds.
Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral infection carried by ticks. Like Japanese encephalitis, most people recover after an initial bout of flu-like symptoms; in some cases the virus will spread to the brain and become life-threatening.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread in the faeces (and, less commonly, the urine) of an infected person. It causes a high temperature, stomach pain, and constipation or diarrhoea; left untreated it can lead to serious complications such as internal bleeding.
Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that primarily affects the lungs, causing coughing, difficulty breathing, and a fever. It is spread in the respiratory secretions of an infected person.
Which activities in China are hazardous to your health?
When you talk to a travel health specialist about health precautions to take while in China, you will need to discuss what kinds of activities you will be taking part in, and the areas where you will be travelling.
Below is a list of common activities that may put you at risk of disease, and thus require vaccination.
Interacting with animals
If you are planning to work with animals, stay for a long time or travel to a remote location that is 24 hours from reliable medical facilities, you should consider getting the rabies vaccine. It is especially important for children to be protected.
Staying in remote, rural/forested areas of China
If you will be staying in certain rural and/or forested areas of China, you should consider getting the Japanese encephalitis and the tick-borne encephalitis vaccines. Your healthcare professional will be able to confirm whether you require the tick-borne encephalitis vaccine, as there is only a selection of areas in China with a small risk of this disease. You should also practise insect bite avoidance by wearing long-sleeved tops and trousers and using effective insect repellent.
Spending time in areas of China with poor sanitation
In areas with poor sanitation you can be at risk of cholera, hepatitis A and typhoid fever. In areas with poor sanitation or limited access to clean water, food and water can become contaminated with faeces. In addition to receiving these vaccines you should be careful about what you eat and how your food is prepared.
Getting a tattoo or body piercing or having unprotected sex
These activities can put you at risk of hepatitis B. In unhygienic environments, tattoos and body piercings can be risky as they can expose you to infected blood. Unprotected sex can also lead to the transmission of hepatitis B (as well as other STIs). People with chronic illnesses who are more likely to require medical attention should also consider vaccination as the standard of medical facilities in China is variable.
Where can I get my China vaccinations?
You can obtain your injections for China from a variety of different places. For your own personal recommendations use our Vaccine Checker. The following vaccines are usually free on the NHS:
The following vaccines are usually obtained privately:
You should be able to receive the free vaccines at your GP surgery; they may also provide some or all of the private vaccines. If you cannot get these vaccines from your GP visit a travel clinic such as MASTA.
Visit our travel Vaccination Checker for your personal travel vaccination recommendation.