Vaccinations for China - Which vaccines do I need?
With over 129 million visitors a year, China is a hugely popular travel destination for tourists from all over the world. From iconic architectural sights such as the Great Wall and the Forbidden City to bustling modern cities such as Beijing and Hong Kong, there is plenty to explore and experience.
Before you’re ready to travel along the ancient Silk Road or take a boat trip down the Yangtze River, you need to make sure you’ve got your health covered. Depending on where and when you are travelling, you may need to get vaccinated against diseases endemic to China. Our friendly Superdrug travel nurses are happy to assess your risk and help you decide which vaccines you need.
Malaria in China
Malaria is endemic to China and you need to take precautions to stay safe. If you are staying in urban areas only, you may not need to take antimalarials.
You will need malaria tablets if you are planning to visit the Yunnan Province. There is also a risk of malaria on the Hainan Island. In certain regions, including the Anhui, Ghuizhou, Henen, Hubei and Jiangsu Provinces, there is a limited risk of the less dangerous form of malaria. During river cruises on the Yangtze or the Yellow River, the malaria risk is currently rated as very low.
While you require antimalarials such as Lariam, Malarone or Doxycycline in the high risk regions, insect bite avoidance may be sufficient if you stay in low risk areas. Tell your travel nurse if you are planning to stay in a remote area, away from easy access to medical facilities. In high risk areas, it may be necessary to carry emergency malaria treatment in addition to taking a preventative treatment.
|Malaria Tablets||Various||From £25|
Hepatitis AAlthough infection rates for hepatitis A have declined significantly in China over the past decade, the illness continues to pose a threat to tourists and locals alike. It is particularly prominent in western parts of the country. All travellers going to China are advised to get vaccinated for hep A. It is also important to practise good hygiene and take care to avoid potentially contaminated water and foods.
Other Vaccines to Consider
CholeraCholera is a food- and waterborne bacterial infection which can be dangerous. With outbreaks in recent years, cholera is known to be endemic to China. Your risk of contracting the disease is higher if you will be staying in rural areas, especially if the local sanitation system is poor.
Hepatitis BOne third of all individuals infected with hepatitis B worldwide reside in China. This means, that 130 million people in China carry the disease, 30 million of which are suffering from chronic hepatitis B. The hepatitis B vaccine is vital for medical professionals and aid workers who come in close contact with the local population. The infection is transmitted during sexual contact and when using contaminated needles. Be careful with getting tattoos or piercings during your stay, especially if you do not know whether the needles used are new and clean.
Japanese EncephalitisIn 2013, Japanese encephalitis cases were reported from all Chinese provinces, excluding Xizang, Xinjiang, and Qinghai. The Japanese encephalitis vaccine is not usually recommended for travellers who are only visiting major cities such as Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong. Travellers who are going to visit rural areas, however, may want to consider getting vaccinated. This is particularly relevant if travelling to Guizhou, Shaanxi, Sichuan, the Yunnan Provinces, or Chongqing City, where infection rates are highest.
RabiesChina is the country with the second highest rabies infection rate worldwide. Despite government efforts to reduce the number of stray dogs and a commitment to eliminate the disease by 2025, authorities report on average 2000 rabies related deaths per year. In addition to avoiding contact with animals (domestic and stay) during your stay in China, you may want to protect yourself with a vaccination. This is particularly important if you will be staying in a remote area, where post exposure prophylaxis is not easily accessible. Please note, that the rabies vaccine provides some immunity and extends the period of time in which post exposure prophylaxis will protect you - but you still need to get treated if you get bitten.
TetanusBefore you travel, you should ensure that all your standard vaccinations and boosters are up to date. This includes your boosters for tetanus, an infection which occurs when tetanus bacteria enter a wound, such as a cut or a graze.
Tick-borne EnephalitisTick-borne encephalitis is a dangerous illness transmitted by ticks. Your risk of contracting TBE in China depends on your travel destination and the time of the year you are travelling. Ticks in China tend to be active between May and August. The number of TBE cases in China has been on the increase in recent years, as an increasingly large area of forest is made accessible to tourists. If you are planning a stay in woodlands or are planning to go camping, your travel nurse may recommend that you get vaccinated against tick-borne encephalitis.
TyphoidTyphoid is a foodborne disease which affects between 1000 and 2000 people in China every year. The risk of typhoid is higher in rural areas and remote communities with an underdeveloped infrastructure and sanitation system. Whether you should consider the vaccine depends on your travel route.
Yellow FeverIf you are entering China from a country where yellow fever is endemic, you require a yellow fever certificate. The same applies if you change flights at the airport of a yellow fever risk country.