Every country has different requirements for vaccinations and in addition to required vaccinations, there are also recommended vaccinations. Most countries will provide a list of required and recommended vaccinations when travelers request visas to visit the nations, but a general outline is provided here. On a first note, there is no vaccine against malaria, but prophylactic treatment is recommended for visitors to many areas of the world.
Vaccinations Commonly Recommended for African Countries
Most African nations require that visitors be vaccinated for yellow fever, but both typhoid and cholera are recommended for many African countries. Depending on the country and the area of the country a traveler is visiting, tuberculosis, hepatitis A, diphtheria and rabies vaccine may also be recommended. In addition to the vaccinations, it is advisable for travelers to many African countries to begin a malaria prophylaxis program at least 20 days before arrival at their destination.
Vaccinations for Asian Countries
With the exception of Japan, where no vaccinations are required, typhoid, diphtheria, and hepatitis A vaccine are recommended for most areas. Yellow fever vaccination is required in certain countries and malaria prophylaxis is also recommended. Cholera vaccination is advisable if traveling in certain areas as is vaccination for Japanese encephalitis. Rabies and tuberculosis vaccination may also be advisable in rural areas of many Asian countries.
Australia and the Pacific Rim
The only required vaccination for Australia is yellow fever. New Zealand recommends tuberculosis and hepatitis B and many of the less developed island countries recommend typhoid and diphtheria vaccinations in addition to yellow fever vaccination. Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu all have a high risk for malaria infection so malaria prophylaxis is important with appropriate measures to avoid mosquito bites.
Countries in Europe
There are no required vaccinations for most Western European nations, although hepatitis A is recommended for several countries. Travelers should have current polio and tetanus vaccinations for all of Europe. Eastern European countries recommend typhoid, hepatitis A and B, diphtheria, rabies and tuberculosis vaccinations.
South American Nations
Yellow fever vaccination is required in most South American nations and typhoid, hepatitis A and B, diphtheria, tuberculosis and rabies are recommended. The risk of malaria varies in South America and prophylaxis is recommended for travel to certain countries, particularly in the northern countries and countries in Central America. As with all destinations, travelers should have a current polio and tetanus vaccination.
North American Countries
No vaccinations are required for Canada and the United States. Rabies is recommended for those visiting certain rural areas of Canada. Vaccinations recommended for Mexico include typhoid, hepatitis A and B, tuberculosis and rabies. Some areas of Mexico are prone to malaria outbreaks and malaria prophylaxis may be need for these areas. Up to date polio and tetanus vaccinations are important for all travelers.
In many cases, “recommended” should read strongly “recommended”, especially for travelers who are planning to spend an extended period in a country. Some of the diseases for which vaccines are recommended are related to less than optimal sanitation conditions in developing countries where water supplies may be contaminated. Travelers should consult with their personal physician regarding travel vaccinations at least two months before a trip is planned.