Heading to China soon? It’s important you’re up-to-date with the latest vaccination requirements.
It’s a nice feeling getting on the plane to China knowing you’ve done everything you can to stay safe while you travel.
After all, the last thing you want is getting sick or navigating the Chinese health system!
Here’s some information to help you understand what vaccinations for China are required.
Are there any compulsory vaccinations for travel to China?
The only mandatory vaccination for China is yellow fever. But this only applies if you’re arriving from a country known for the disease.
This means there are no compulsory vaccinations for most people, including those flying directly to China from the USA, UK, Europe and Australia.
However, there are some recommended vaccinations for all travelers, as outlined below.
What vaccinations are recommended for travel to China?
In addition to your routine immunizations (which you should have received as a child), there’s a handful of travel vaccinations that are recommended for China.
Some depend on the region you’re going to and the kind of activities you’ll be doing.
Here are the big ones and why they matter.
The COVID-19 vaccine is no longer compulsory for China, but it’s still recommended to help protect you from getting seriously ill.
As at January 2023, you still need proof of a negative PCR test to enter the country, taken up to 48 hours before your flight.
You can catch this through contaminated food and water, even if you’re staying at top hotels.
Fever, nausea and vomiting are just a few of the symptoms, and you can stay sick for a very long time. Hepatitis A is a preventable disease so it’s worth getting your injection.
This is a blood-borne viral infection that can damage the liver. In severe cases, you can even die from it. You can catch Hepatitis B from things like unsafe sex, exchanging bodily fluids and sharing needles.
This vaccination is given as multiple shots over several months, so visit your doctor early on if you think you’re at risk.
This is another disease that you can get from contaminated food and water. It’s often spread when food handlers don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom.
It can cause some very uncomfortable symptoms like fever, headache, diarrhea and abdominal pain. This is no way to spend your trip of a lifetime in China!
This is found in dogs, bats and other mammals in China. If there’s a chance you’re going to be around animals, or you’re going to be in China long term, it’s worth getting vaccinated for rabies.
You can get vaccinated after being infected, but going to the hospital in China is a nightmare. It’s best to be vaccinated before you go.
This is a viral disease that’s spread through mosquito bites, particularly during the middle of the year.
You may only experience mild symptoms when you contract Japanese Encephalitis, like fever, headache and muscle aches. But a small number of people develop brain inflammation and actually die from it.
If you’re planning on spending lots of time outdoors or visiting rural areas, have a chat with your doctor about this one.
Malaria is another infection transmitted by mosquito bite. The risk in China is mostly in the tropical southern areas.
The best way to prevent malaria is to wear long-sleeved clothing and avoid being bitten.
In reality though, this can be tough and that’s why malaria prevention drugs are available.
Which China travel vaccines should I get?
China is a huge country with various conditions, climates and health advice. So, it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ scenario when it comes to which of the above travel vaccinations you should get.
Here are some factors that can help determine what’s right for you.
Where are you going?
Are you sticking to Shanghai and Beijing, or will you be venturing out to the rural areas on your own? Your risk can increase in rural areas, meaning more or different vaccinations are required.
When are you going?
Will you be traveling through China in the middle of summer, or the middle of winter? Also, if you’re jetting off in a few days’ time, you may not be able to get all the required shots completed in time.
How long is your stay?
If you’re moving to China permanently versus visiting for a few days, then it changes your vaccination requirements. If you’re moving there, you may travel into areas that put you at greater risk.
What activities will you be doing?
Will you be in close contact with animals in China? Is there a chance that you’ll have sex with a local during your travels? And, do you think you’ll get tattoos or your ears pierced?
These are just a few questions to consider. Please consult with your doctor who can help talk you through your individual circumstances.
Routine immunizations for China
Before you leave for China, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re up-to-date with all your routine immunizations, most of which you would have received as a child.
The list may vary slightly depending on where you’re from, but generally the routine immunizations you should already have include:
- Tetanus, pertussis, diphtheria (DPT)
- Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
- Varicella, otherwise known as chickenpox.
If you’re unsure, chat with your doctor or get your immunization record from your national health service.
Where can you get travel vaccinations for China?
See your regular doctor before your trip and discuss your travel plans with them. Your doctor should be able to give you the travel vaccinations you need.
If the vaccines aren’t available at your clinic, your doctor can refer you to a specialized travel health clinic.
Some leading travel health clinics include:
Just remember that some vaccinations, such as Hepatitis B, are given in several doses over a few months. So, book your appointment well before you leave.
My final travel advice for China
As well as getting travel vaccinations for China, I have two other tips.
First, don’t drink Chinese tap water – it’s unsafe. Only drink bottled water or boiled water. You’ll find it available everywhere in China, so don’t stress out!
Secondly, if you get sick in China, you’ll probably be confined to your hotel room using Wi-Fi.
Chatting with loved ones back home on Facebook or WhatsApp, or sending emails via Gmail, is only possible if you have a VPN on your phone.
That’s because all the major websites and apps are blocked in China. So, please check out this review of the VPNs that work in China to overcome the problem.
Travel vaccinations matter for China
Immunization protects you from contracting nasty diseases and getting violently ill. It can even save your life.
So, even though you’ll have lots to organize before you leave for China, you shouldn’t forget about your travel vaccinations.
Make an appointment a few months before your trip and ask your doctor about your immunization status and what they recommend based on where you’re going in China and the kind of activities you have planned.
That’s the best way to ensure you’re covered. Have a healthy and happy time in China!
I hope you liked my article on travel vaccinations for China. If you’re a woman like me, you may also like the one I wrote about what it’s like being a foreign woman in China. It’s always good to be prepared.
Other helpful stuff for China
- Travel insurance to help if you get sick
- Packing list to help you get organized
- Best apps to help you with daily life
Disclaimer: The information in this article is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for professional medical advice. Speak with a doctor about your individual medical needs for China. Main image credit: Tama2u on Shutterstock.
FAQ about vaccinations for China
Are there any mandatory vaccinations for China?
Only yellow fever, and that’s if you’re coming from a country where there is a risk of this disease. So, for most visitors to China, there’s no mandatory requirement.
Is there yellow fever in China?
No, but if you arrive from a country with a risk of yellow fever then you may be required to show proof of vaccination to enter the country.
What are the most important travel vaccines for China?
Some of the most important include hepatitis A and B, typhoid, malaria, Japanese Encephalitis, rabies and COVID-19. It can depend on where you’re going in China and what activities you’ll be doing, so speak with your doctor.
Do you need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter China?
No, not anymore. You just need to provide a negative PCR test result up to 48 hours before your flight.