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Travel vaccinations

9-minute read

Key facts

  • Vaccination is a way to protect yourself against certain infections.
  • Travelling can expose you to serious diseases that rarely occur in Australia.
  • You can protect yourself by becoming vaccinated against diseases that are more common overseas.
  • Vaccines are usually very safe with only minor side effects.
  • Visit your doctor 6 to 12 weeks before you travel, so you can have any vaccines you might need.

What is vaccination?

Vaccination helps keeps you safe from certain infections. Vaccines contain tiny amounts of dead or weakened viruses, bacteria, or other substances that help your immune system prepare to fight a future infection. Vaccination is safe, effective and especially important when travelling.

Why should I get vaccinated before I travel?

Many infectious diseases are uncommon in Australia, due to widespread vaccination and other public health measures. This is not the case in many other countries.

Travelling can make it more likely for you to catch infectious diseases that are very rare in Australia.

These infections can cause serious illness, even in people who are usually fit and healthy. Sometimes they can be life-threatening. If you return to Australia with an infectious disease, you may also put other people at risk.

People who are pregnant, babies and young children, older people and people with a weakened immune system have a higher risk of infection when travelling. For these people, getting vaccinated before travelling is even more important.

Some countries require you to be vaccinated against certain diseases before you can visit. If you do not have the required vaccinations, they may refuse your entry, or require you to have the vaccination(s) at the border. Talk to your doctor about which vaccines or boosters you may need before you travel.

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Which vaccines do I need before travel?

Health risks vary from one region to another. Over time new outbreaks may occur and new vaccines may become available.

If it has been a while since your last vaccinations, you may need boosters. That is why it is important that you visit your doctor well before your trip to discuss vaccination.

Your doctor will consider factors such as:

  • your age
  • your vaccination history
  • whether you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy
  • any past or present illnesses, and your general health
  • the season of travel
  • your destination(s), length of stay and type of travel

It is important to keep up to date with your vaccinations for diseases including:

You may also need one or more vaccines for diseases such as:

There may be other infections, unique to countries or regions, that are not covered in this list. Your doctor can advise you of any other vaccinations you may need before you travel.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, vaccine clinics and other health services.

How long before I travel should I see my doctor?

You should see your doctor at least 6 weeks (and preferably 12 weeks) before you leave Australia. This will give your immune system time to respond to any vaccines you need. Also, you may need more than one dose of some vaccines.

ASK YOUR DOCTOR — Preparing for an appointment? Use the Question Builder for general tips on what to ask your GP or specialist.

What if I have been vaccinated against these diseases in the past?

You should still check with your doctor if you need any vaccinations for travel. Even if you have been vaccinated before, your immunity to some diseases reduces with time and you may need a booster.

Are vaccines safe?

Vaccines used in Australia are approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration after a careful safety testing process. Overall, the chance that a vaccine will cause serious harm is extremely small. Being vaccinated is far less risky than the risk of getting a disease because you were not vaccinated.

If you have a weakened immune system due to certain diseases or medicines, ask your doctor how this affects your vaccination schedule. Your doctor will review your general health and ask you about any medicines you take to make sure vaccination is safe for you.

Rarely, a person may develop an allergic reaction to a vaccine. Always let your doctor know if you have any allergies or if you have reacted to a vaccine in the past. This will help them advise whether a particular vaccine is suitable for you.

What are the side effects of vaccinations?

All medicines, including vaccines, may have side effects. In the case of vaccines, side effects are very minor and usually go away within a few days. Common side effects are:

If you are concerned that you have side effects related to a vaccine, see your doctor. You can also report and discuss possible side effects by calling the Adverse Medicines Events (AME) Line on 1300 633 424 (1300 MEDICINE).

How much do vaccinations in Australia cost?

The cost of vaccinations in Australia depends on the vaccination. Many vaccines are free under the National Immunisation Program (NIP) which you have access to if you have Medicare.

Some travel vaccines may not be covered by the NIP, and you will need to buy them. You can check costs with your doctor. Ask your doctor if there is a fee for the consultation and vaccination service, as this can vary in different clinics.

What is the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR)?

The Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) is a national register that records all vaccinations given to people in Australia. It helps you to track your immunisations. You can easily check your immunisation history by applying for a statement through your myGov account online or asking your doctor. If you have Medicare, you will automatically be added to the AIR when you receive any vaccines.

Resources and support

For more information on travel health visit the Immunisation for travel page at the Department of Health.

For information about vaccine side effects and safety, visit:

To report or discuss possible side effects from vaccination, call Adverse Medicines Events (AME) on 1300 633 424 (1300 MEDICINE) from anywhere in Australia 9am–5pm AEST (except on NSW public holidays).

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: November 2023

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