Vaccinations and Health Concerns for Traveling to China

Man sitting on Great Wall of China

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If your travel is limiting you to large cities and tourist areas for a vacation, you are going to be fine and don't require any particular medication (other than OTC anti-diarrhea as the food or water might disagree with you).

If you're going to be in China for a longer period of time or you plan to be in rural areas for extended periods then you are going to need some vaccinations. Read on for more advice about your medical needs and health concerns while traveling in China. 


While no vaccinations are required for a trip to China (except for Yellow Fever if you're arriving from an infected area), it is recommended that you see your physician and preferably a doctor at a travel medicine clinic at least 4-6 weeks before you are scheduled to depart and make sure you are up-to-date on all of your routine vaccinations.

The US Center for Disease Control does have some recommendations about vaccinations depending on the type of travel you are doing. These recommended vaccines are good to consider as it is important that you take all necessary precautions to ensure you have a healthy and enjoyable trip.

Infectious Disease Reference

Disease outbreaks such as SARS and Avian Flu have been concerns for China over the last years. To understand more about these, and whether or not they are a threat to you during your trip to Asia, here are some good resources for travelers.

What to Do in an Emergency

It is very unlikely you'll need to contact your embassy for a medical emergency. But it's good to have the contact details on hand along with their holiday schedule so you'll know what to do in an extreme case.

Water and Food Safety

It goes without saying you should be careful with food and water. Only drink bottled water and use it to brush your teeth. Your hotel will provide several bottles a day free of charge.

If you have an extremely sensitive stomach, then you may want to avoid raw vegetables. Peeled fruit and cooked food should cause you no problem. It's always best to take in your surroundings—if the restaurant is crowded (especially with locals) then the food is going to be fresh. If you stumble into a small place in the countryside and no one else is there, think twice. Read more about Water and Food Safety in China.

Basic Tips and Precautions

While many familiar drugs are available in China, navigating the language and communicating the need may not be something you have the time or energy for in an emergency. It's best to pack a few precautionary items with you, especially for minor illnesses and complaints. For a more thorough list, see First Aid Packing List for Travelers to China.

  • Bandaids
  • Antibacterial ointment
  • Headache medicine
  • Something for an upset stomach or diarrhea
  • Hand cleaner - wipes and sanitizers
  • Insect repellent
  • Allergy medication
  • Cold medicine
  • Sunscreen
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