- Vaccination is a way to protect yourself against certain infections.
- Travelling can expose you to serious infectious diseases that do not 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 at least 6 weeks (and preferably 12 weeks) before you leave Australia, to receive any vaccines you might need for travel.
What is vaccination?
Vaccination is a way to protect yourself against 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 and effective and is especially important when travelling.
Why should I get vaccinated before I travel?
Travelling can expose you to 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 fatal. If you return to Australia with an infectious disease, you may also put other people at risk.
Some countries require you to be vaccinated against certain diseases before you can visit. If you do not have the required vaccinations, you may be refused entry or required to have the vaccination(s) at the border. Talk to your doctor about which vaccines or boosters you may need before you travel.
Which vaccines do I need before travel?
Health risks vary from one region to another and over time. There may be new outbreaks and new vaccines may become available.
If it has been a while since your past 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 you may have, and your general health
- the season of travel
- your destination(s), length of stay and type of travel
You may need one or more vaccines for diseases such as:
- hepatitis A and/or hepatitis B
- chickenpox (varicella)
- yellow fever
- tuberculosis (TB)
- meningococcal disease
- Japanese encephalitis
- influenza (flu)
There may be other infections, unique to particular 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.
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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.
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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.
However, in some cases, your doctor may advise against vaccination, for example, if you have a weakened immune system due to certain diseases or medicines. Your doctor will ask about your general health and 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.
To report or discuss possible side effects from vaccination, call the Adverse Medicines Events (AME) Line 1300 633 424 from anywhere in Australia (Monday to Sunday, 8am – 8pm AEST.
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:
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Last reviewed: August 2022