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Vaccinations For China Travel

Travel to an exotic country like China means a lot of preparations, and it’s particularly important to know whether you need any vaccination and what kind you need to go against with the diseases that are prevalent in the country. There is no compulsory requirement for any vaccinations for foreigners in China. Considering the covid-19 outbreak starting in late 2019, you must take the routine vaccinations and quite possibly the specific vaccination for coronavirus later.
Generally speaking, China is a perfectly safe country to travel in, especially the big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and more. However, if you intend to visit some rural areas or stay in China for a month or more, the following mentioned vaccinations are very necessary. For detailed vaccination, please consult your doctor 6-8 weeks before travel. 

Routine Immunizations

Tetanus-diphtheria (DPT): it spreads through the contamination of cuts, burns, and wounds with tetanus spores. It can’t spread among people.
Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR): it’s a common respiratory disease among children. There is no effective way to treat it, but vaccinations are available. Make sure you take two doses of the vaccination. 
Varicella (chickenpox): almost everyone will have varicella, and as long as you had it, you are safe. However, if you haven’t had chickenpox, please discuss it with your doctor and get the vaccination. 
Hepatitis A: it’s a food and waterborne virus that infects the liver, causing yellow skin, yellow eyes, nausea, and lethargy. You must get the vaccination if you plan to go to rural China and stay for a while.
Typhoid: it’s another food and waterborne disease, causing headache, progressive fever, sometimes dry cough, and stomach pain. Take the vaccination and be careful when you eat in China.

Recommended Vaccinations

Yellow Fever: if you are traveling from your country (presumably a low-risk one) directly to China, there is no need to get a vaccination against Yellow Fever. However, if you enter China from a country with a high risk of yellow fever, the Chinese government will require vaccination proof from you. 

Japanese Encephalitis: it’s a viral disease contained by mosquitoes, causing meningitis. It’s recommended for people, especially children, who travel to southern China from May to November where they are susceptible to mosquito bites.  

Hepatitis B: it’s a viral disease damaging the liver. The vaccination is recommended if you plan to stay in China for a long time or travel to China multiple times in a short period. 

Rabies: anyone who might come in contact with or handle animals, particularly dogs, need a vaccination. Besides, there are a lot of stray dogs in China, especially in rural regions. Getting this vaccination will spare you a lot of trouble finding a hospital in a different country.

Flu Shot: although flu is a small disease, it can still ruin your trip if you didn’t get one. 
Malaria: it’s another disease spread through mosquito bites. You need to get the vaccination if you plan to do some outdoor activities in China. 

Pneumonia: it’s another respiratory disease that will damage your lungs and compromise your immune system. At the moment, the covid-19 is rampant in every corner. Although there are countries like China, South Korea, New Zealand that successfully controlled the situation, there are still risks. We may not have the effective vaccination for the newly developed coronavirus; we do have vaccinations for other pneumonia diseases.

Tuberculosis: it’s a complex disease, and it’s recommended to have a TB skin test before and after your travel.

Other Health Risks in China

Air Pollution

Air pollution in big cities like Beijing and Xian is a big concern for travelers in recent years. It’s especially serious in late Autumn and early Winter. Children and elder people with respiratory problems find it hard to live in those cities. Although the Chinese government has implemented a lot of policies to improve the situation, it’s still bad. Therefore, if you have to travel to China after October, please prepare some face masks in case the air gets bad.

Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness only happens if you travel to places like Tibet or nearby regions with an altitude over 2400m. You need to consult your doctor about what medicine to take for such areas. Bear in mind that do not walk or run too fast in these areas.

HFMD - Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

It’s a disease common among children, causing fever and blisters on hands, feet, and butt cheeks. It’s likely to occur between March and October. If you are taking children to China, please make sure they wash their hands frequently.

Staying Healthy While in China

Drinking-Water: it’s well-established that the tap water in China is not for drinking. You must drink boiled water or bottled water. Even for brushing teeth, use the bottled water. It’s acceptable for you to ask for more bottled water from the hotel reception.
Wash Hands: While vaccines can help prevent some diseases, the fundamental thing you should do is to be careful about germs. Wash your hands frequently. It’s the first defense and the easiest way to keep healthy. No matter what you’ve touched or hold, the first thing for you when you return to the hotel is to wash your hand. Make sure you use a hand sanitizer.

Choose Big Restaurants: it’s unfair to say that all the small restaurants in China are unhygienic, but most unsafe restaurants are small. Thus, when you choose where to eat, choose the big and decent ones if you could. It’s safer, and the food is often better.

Before You Go

1.Buy Health Insurance

Buy health insurance before your travel and declare any existing medical conditions you have. If you plan to ski or hike, extra cover is very necessary. Lastly, keep all the insurance documents in case of any medical expenses incurred.

2.Prepare First-aid Travel Kit

Besides the travel insurance, you need to get a first-aid travel kit so that you can treat some basics without navigating to the clinics or hospitals only to find a few people who can speak English. 

3.Bring Insect Repellent and Ointments

Urban areas in China don’t have such problems, but it’s very common to see all kinds of insects in mountainous regions. Please bring the insect repellent and ointments, in case you need any. 

4.Sun-blocking supplies

If you travel to China in Summer, sun-blocking supplies like sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat are important. 

The bottom line is that you should ask your physician for advice on what vaccinations to have for China and what to bring for your health. Make sure you make the appointment at least 6 -8 weeks before the trip, as the vaccine inoculation takes effect two weeks after the shot. It’s never too careful to be safe. 

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