Vaccinations for international travel

Key points about vaccinations for international travel

  • Good planning and taking care of yourself can reduce the risks of health problems during your travel.
  • Before travel, ask your doctor if any vaccinations are needed for the areas you are travelling to.
  • Try to do this 3 months before you leave, as some vaccinations need to be done over a few weeks.
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1. Check that you are up to date 

Check you're up-to-date with all your routine vaccines – in particular measles, hepatitis B, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), polio, flu and Covid. It's important to check that other people who will be travelling with you in your whānau are also up to date. Tamariki and older adults may have different requirements.

2. Get the right advice

Check exactly what's needed for the areas you're travelling to. It may be recommended to have vaccinations to protect against other diseases such as yellow fever, rabies, cholera, hepatitis A, and typhoid.

The following links give advice for travel to different parts of the world:
Safe Travel(external link) (NZ)
Fit for travel(external link) (NHS Scotland)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Travelers’ Health(external link) (CDC)
WHO Travel and health(external link) (World Health Organisation).

Your healthcare provider will recommend vaccinations depending on your risk. This varies according to:

  • your general health and immune system
  • where and how long you are travelling
  • the season
  • what type of activities you will be doing
  • what type of accommodation you'll be staying in.

3. Plan ahead

Allow enough time to get your vaccinations before your travel – preferably 3 months because some vaccinations only need a single dose but others may need a few doses over a few weeks to protect you. If you're short on time, some vaccines can be given closer together. You may also want to get at least the first dose of certain vaccines so you get some protection before your trip. These include hepatitis A, Japanese encephalitis, and rabies vaccines.

Planning ahead also gives your body time to adjust to the vaccine before you leave. Read more about single and multiple dose vaccines(external link).

4. Costs of vaccines

Routine vaccinations on the National Immunisation Schedule(external link) are usually free but you will need to pay for other vaccines.  

5. Find out if you need a vaccination certificate to enter the country you're travelling to

Vaccination certificates are needed to enter some countries. For example, for some countries you need proof of vaccination against yellow fever.

The best place to go for vaccinations is your family doctor or nurse at your usual medical clinic. They have your medical records and can check to see which vaccinations you've already had.

If you don’t have a family doctor, you can find a clinic near you on the Healthpoint website(external link). Search for travel vaccinations and select the region and suburb you live in. There are also some specialised travel clinics where you can get travel vaccinations.

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Credits: Healthify He Puna Waiora editorial team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland

Last reviewed: