Before travel, be sure you and your children are up to date on all routine immunizations according to schedules approved by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP). See the schedule for adults and the schedule for infants and children. Some schedules can be accelerated for travel.
See your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect. If it is less than 4 weeks before you leave, you should still see your doctor. It might not be too late to get your shots or medications as well as other information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while traveling.
The following vaccines may be recommended
for your travel to Australia and the South
Pacific. Discuss your travel plans and personal
health with a health-care provider to determine
which vaccines you will need.
- Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG). (except for Australia and New Zealand). Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water, ice, or shellfish harvested in contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables, or other foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling.
- Hepatitis B, especially if you might be exposed to blood or body fluids (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment. Hepatitis B vaccine is now recommended for all infants and for children ages 11–12 years who did not receive the series as infants.
- Japanese encephalitis, Papua New Guinea or the Islands of Torres Strait in Australia. Local transmission documented but rare.
- Rabies, if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas, such as might occur during camping, hiking, or bicycling, or engaging in certain occupational activities.
- Typhoid, (except for Australia and New Zealand), particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region. Typhoid fever can be contracted through contaminated drinking water or food, or by eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by a person who is infected. Large outbreaks are most often related to fecal contamination of water supplies or foods sold by street vendors
- As needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles.
Diseases found in Australia and the South Pacific (risk can vary by country and region within a country; quality of in-country surveillance also varies)
The preventive measures you need to take while traveling in this region depend on the areas you visit and the length of time you stay. You should observe the precautions listed in this document in most areas of this region. However, in highly developed areas of Australia and New Zealand, you should observe health precautions similar to those that would apply while traveling in the United States.
Malaria is always a serious disease and may be a deadly illness.
Humans get malaria from the bite of a mosquito infected with the parasite. Prevent this serious disease by seeing your health care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites. All travelers to malaria-risk areas in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu, including infants, children, and former residents of these countries should take an antimalarial drug. Papua New Guinea has risk in all areas under the elevation of 1800 meters (5906 feet). The Solomon Islands has risk in all areas, except for the southern province of Rennell Island and Bellona Island. Vanuatu has risk throughout all its islands.
For additional information on malaria risk and prevention, see Malaria Information for Travelers to Australia and the South Pacific.
There is no risk for malaria in Australia, Christmas Island, Cook Island, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia (Tahiti), Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Niue, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Pitcairn, Samoa, American Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Wake Island, Wallis and Futuna.
There is no risk for yellow fever in Australia and the South Pacific. A certificate of yellow fever vaccination may be required for entry into certain of these countries if you are coming from countries in South America or sub-Saharan Africa. For detailed information, see Comprehensive Yellow Fever Vaccination Requirements. Also, find the nearest authorized U.S. yellow fever vaccine center.
Food and Waterborne Diseases
Make sure your food and drinking water are safe. Food and waterborne diseases are the primary cause of illness in travelers. Travelers’ diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites, which are found throughout Australia and the South Pacific and can contaminate food or water. Infections may cause diarrhea and vomiting (E. coli, Salmonella, cholera, and parasites), fever (typhoid fever and toxoplasmosis), or liver damage ( hepatitis).
Additional information: see the Safe Food and Water page for a list of links.
Other Disease Risks
Risk of infection is quite variable within this region. Vaccine rates are high in Australia and New Zealand, but rates of certain infectious diseases are high in travelers to other islands. Dengue, filariasis, Ross River virus, and Murray Valley encephalitis are diseases carried by insects that also occur in this region.
Scrub typhus and other rickettsial infections are present in this region.
Protecting yourself against insect and tick bites (see below) will help to prevent these diseases. Japanese encephalitis is present in Papua New Guinea and the Torres Strait and far northern Australia. Other hazards for travelers include ciguatera poisoning, which occurs frequently on some of the islands. Snake and spider bites are also a risk.
Other Health Risks
Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers. Protect yourself from motor vehicle injuries: avoid drinking and driving; wear your safety belt and place children in age-appropriate restraints in the back seat; follow the local customs and laws regarding pedestrian safety and vehicle speed; obey the rules of the road; and use helmets on bikes, motorcycles, and motor bikes. Avoid boarding an overloaded bus or mini-bus. Where possible, hire a local driver.
What You Need To Bring With You
- Long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and a hat to wear whenever possible while outside, to prevent illnesses carried by insects (e.g., malaria, Dengue, filariasis, leishmaniasis, and onchocerciasis).
- Insect repellent containing DEET.
- Bed nets treated with permethrin. For use and purchasing information, see Insecticide Treated Bednets on the CDC malaria site. Overseas, permethrin or another insecticide, deltamethrin, may be purchased to treat bed nets and clothes.
- Flying-insect spray to help clear rooms of mosquitoes. The product should contain a pyrethroid insecticide; these insecticides quickly kill flying insects, including mosquitoes.
- Iodine tablets and portable water filters to purify water if bottled water is not available. See Preventing Cryptosporidiosis: A Guide to Water Filters and Bottled Water for more detailed information.
- Sunblock, sunglasses, and a hat for protection from harmful effects of UV sun rays. See Skin Cancer Questions and Answers for more information.
- Prescription medications: make sure you have enough to last during your trip, as well as a copy of the prescription(s) or letter from your health-care provider on office stationery explaining that the medication has been prescribed for you.
- Always carry medications in their original containers, in your carry-on luggage.
- Be sure to bring along over-the-counter antidiarrheal medication (e.g., bismuth subsalicylate, loperamide) and an antibiotic prescribed by your doctor to self-treat moderate to severe diarrhea. See suggested over-the-counter medications and first aid items for a travel kit.
Staying Healthy During Your Trip
Travelers should take the following precautions
To stay healthy, do...
Wash your hands often with soap and water or, if hands are not visibly
soiled, use a waterless, alcohol-based hand rub to remove potentially
infectious materials from your skin and help prevent disease
- In developing countries, drink only bottled or
boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid
tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. If this is not possible,
learn how to make water safer to drink.
- Take your malaria prevention medication before, during, and after travel, as directed. (See your health care provider for a prescription.)
- To prevent fungal and parasitic infections, keep feet clean and dry, and do not go barefoot, even on beaches.
- Always use latex condoms to reduce the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Protect yourself from mosquito insect bites:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats when outdoors.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
- Use insect repellents that contain DEET (N, N-diethylmethyltoluamide).
For more information about insect repellents and correct use,
You Need to Know about Mosquito Repellent on the CDC
West Nile Virus site.
- If no screening or air conditioning is available: use a pyrethroid-containing spray in living and sleeping areas during evening and night-time hours; sleep under bed nets, preferably insecticide-treated ones.
- If you are visiting friends and relatives in your home country, see additional special information about malaria prevention in Recent Immigrants to the U.S. from Malarious Countries Returning 'Home' to Visit Friends and Relatives on the CDC Malaria site.
- Do not eat food purchased from street vendors or food that is not well cooked to reduce risk of infection (i.e., hepatitis A and typhoid fever).
- Do not drink beverages with ice.
- Avoid dairy products, unless you know they have been pasteurized.
- Do not handle animals, especially monkeys, dogs, and cats, to avoid bites and serious diseases (including rabies and plague). Consider pre-exposure rabies vaccination if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas. For more information, please see Animal-Associated Hazards.
- Do not share needles for tattoos, body piercing or injections to prevent infections such as HIV and hepatitis B.
After You Return Home
If you have visited a malaria-risk area in the South Pacific, continue taking your antimalarial drug for 4 weeks (doxycycline or mefloquine) or 7 days (atovaquone/proguanil) after leaving the risk area.
Malaria is always a serious disease and may be a deadly illness. If you become ill with a fever or flu-like illness either while traveling in a malaria-risk area or after you return home (for up to1 year), you should seek immediate medical attention and should tell the physician your travel history.
Important: This document is not a complete medical guide for travelers to this region. Consult with your doctor for specific information related to your needs and your medical history; recommendations may differ for pregnant women, young children, and persons who have chronic medical conditions.
National Center for Infectious Diseases, Division of Global Migration and Quarantine