What are the required (and recommended) vaccinations for China in 2018? Whether you’re taking a short trip to China or you’re planning to move there as an expat, it’s helpful to know what is recommended to keep you safe and healthy. Here’s a quick breakdown of all you need to know.
Before we dive into vaccinations, I strongly suggest that you consult your doctor at least 6 weeks prior to your trip to get professional medical advice. What I’m about to share with you is based upon recommendations from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention but should only be used in consultation with a licensed medical doctor.
For an up-to-date list of the recommended vaccines, visit the CDC website here.
Required Vaccinations for China
For visitors and tourist, China does not require any particular vaccines unless you are arriving from a country that has a high risk of yellow fever. If you’re traveling through or are a citizen of one of these countries, which are all located in African, Central & South America, you’ll likely already have a Yellow Fever vaccination anyway.
At no point during the China visa process will you be asked for proof of immunization. The vaccines you choose are entirely voluntary and although many of us were immunized as children, the schedules have changed over time so it’s worth comparing what you have versus what is now recommended.
Staying in and around China’s Big Cities
It makes a difference where you’re traveling in China and how long you’ll be there. If you never plan to leave the major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong, routine immunizations usually cover you well. These routine immunizations include:
- MMR: Measles-mumps-rubella
- Tdap: This is also known as the tetanus vaccine.
- Varicella: This is the chickenpox vaccine.
- Polio vaccine
- Your yearly flu shot
Traveling Short-Term into China’s Rural Areas
For those travelers who have plans to travel outside the major cities but won’t be in the country for very long, the CDC recommends you consider the following vaccinations for China:
- Hepatitis A: This vaccine is recommended because there are parts of China where contaminated food or water puts you at risk of Hepatitis A.
- Typhoid: This is recommended for those who are staying in the homes of friends or relatives in smaller cities throughout China.
Traveling Long-Term into China’s Rural Areas
Finally, if you plan to venture into rural areas of China or hope to stay for a month or longer, the CDC recommends you discuss the following immunizations with your doctor:
- Hepatitis B: since this is usually spread by blood or contaminated needles, you’ll want to make sure you have this vaccination if you have any plans of getting a tattoo, piercing or any type of medical procedure in China.
- Japanese Encephalitis: This is particularly important in rural areas where you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors.
- Polio: The CDC recommends this vaccine for those visiting the Xinjiang region, working at a healthcare facility or doing humanitarian aid of any kind.
- Rabies: This is recommended if there’s any particular reason you’ll be around animals while in China.
- Yellow Fever: There is no risk of yellow fever in China, but you’ll need this vaccine if you’re coming from a country that does have a risk of yellow fever. You can find a list of countries with a risk of yellow fever here.
- Malaria: If you plan to do outdoor hiking or camping in places that might have mosquitos in China, taking measures to prevent malaria might be a good idea
Now if you’re like me, you look at this list and your head starts spinning. Don’t worry!
Most of us have all the required immunizations we need for short-term travel around China. There are, however, one or two you want to add just for the sake of precaution, particularly if you’ll be visiting rural areas or doing a lot of outdoor activities.
Conclusion | Vaccinations for China
The bottom line is that you need to ask your personal physician what they think. Schedule an appointment at least 6 weeks in advance of your trip so that you have plenty of time to add any immunizations you don’t have.
Also, while a list like this shouldn’t scare you, it should make you consider the need for good travel insurance while you’re in China. The risks are low, but if something ever happens (as I’ve seen it happen before), it’s one of those things you’ll be grateful you had.
Anything else you think is missing on this list or needs to be noted? Leave a comment below!