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Routine Vaccinations

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.

Recommended Vaccinations

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.

Required Vaccinations

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

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.

Yellow Fever

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

Injuries

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

Staying Healthy During Your Trip

Travelers should take the following precautions

To stay healthy, do...

Do not

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.

Date: October 14, 2004
Content Source: National Center for Infectious Diseases, Division of Global Migration and Quarantine