India is home to over 1.3 billion people, which makes it the second most populated country in the world, after China. It is approximately one-third of the size of the United States and has four times the population, which is equivalent to about 17.7% of the world’s total population.
Do not travel to India.
But don’t let that scare you off. The country offers a vibrant culture so rich in history, with some of the most magnificent and exotic structures in the world – and it doesn’t stop there. India boasts a wealth of natural beauty and varying landscapes, from the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, to the shimmering waters of coastal retreats.
If you’re more of a spiritual seeker or embarking on a soul-searching journey, look no further than India. The town of Rishikesh is the spiritual hotspot, nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas and is known as the “Yoga Capital of the World”. Here you can find some of the most amazing yoga retreats in the world, devoted to helping you nourish your mind, body and soul.
Whether you’re planning an adventurous or more spiritual holiday, it’s important to consider the risks of disease and illness associated with your travel plans. Speak with your healthcare professional about the vaccinations or preventative medicines you might need to protect yourself prior to your departure.
Before you go to India
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that all travellers are up-to-date with their routine vaccinations; measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), hepatitis B, polio, influenza and pneumococcal. These vaccinations are given as part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP). For a full list please refer to the NIP schedule, available here. . In some cases, you may need a booster or re-vaccination against a disease to ensure you still have immunity.
Other diseases that are considered a risk in India include hepatitis A, hepatitis B, and typhoid. Your doctor will be able to let you know which vaccinations are recommended for you, based on the time of year, destination/s, activities planned and the duration of your stay.
All travellers should be up-to-date with their routine vaccinations before heading off to India.
These include vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, chicken pox, polio and influenza. For a full list, refer to the National Immunisation Program – available here
There is an increased risk of contracting hepatitis A and typhoid in India, both of which can be contracted through contaminated food or water.
Hepatitis A is a viral infection of the liver. People are exposed to the virus generally through food or drink contaminated with faeces (poo), however, close personal contact (e.g.
Depending on where you are staying and what activities you have planned, the following vaccinations may be recommended for you by your doctor:
- Cholera (recommended for those who are visiting friend’s and/or relatives, or travelling for humanitarian aid work in disaster areas)
- Hepatitis B
- Japanese encephalitis
- Rabies (due to the number of wild dogs roaming the country)
In 2019 there were 5,855 cases of hepatitis B recorded in Australia, of which 157 cases were “newly acquired” and 5,698 cases were “unspecified” in regards to the time lapse since first infection.
Australia is free of rabies, as the virus does not occur in land-dwelling Australian animals.1,2 Australia does, however, have other similar viruses, which are found in bats.
Malaria is a serious and sometimes life-threatening parasitic infection spread by the bite of a certain mosquito (i.e. the female Anopheles mosquito).
Goa is renowned for its beautiful beaches and thriving party scene. However, Goa does pose some risk of diseases to travellers.
Much like the rest of India, the recommendation is that you are up-to-date with your routine vaccinations, and have had a dose of the hepatitis A and typhoid vaccine in the last 3 years.
Let your doctor know if you have planned particular activities, such as sports, visiting locations where animals are present, or getting a tattoo or piercing. Your doctor will be able to let you know which vaccinations are recommended for you based on this information, as well as the season in which you are travelling and the duration of your stay.
It is best to consult with your doctor or travel health clinic at least 4-6 weeks prior to your departure. They will be able to advise you about any vaccinations that you may need for your trip well before you leave, based on your specific travel plans.
Your doctor may conduct a general health check-up. This may be needed for your travel insurance if you have a pre-existing medical condition. If you are not up-to-date with your routine vaccinations, then your doctor may recommend that you get a booster or be vaccinated/revaccinated against a particular disease.
Some health insurance companies provide coverage for vaccinations. You will need to contact your health insurance provider to see what they cover.
When you see your doctor regarding your trip, Medicare may cover the total cost of your consultation fees (if it is a bulk billing practice), or otherwise a portion of the cost. However, if you need to be vaccinated, Medicare will not cover the cost of the vaccines themselves.
The location of where your homestay is will generally determine if you need any additional vaccinations.
However, it is recommended you are protected against food and waterborne diseases, such as hepatitis A and typhoid, if you are visiting friends and/or relatives, or are staying in a homestay. This is due to the nature of traditional style cooking and the sanitation practices in India.
The standard of healthcare facilities in India varies from place to place. So it is important you a prepared before heading off on your trip.
- Register your trip with Smart Traveller
- Make sure you have enough of your regular prescription medicines;
- Ensure you’re up-to-date with your routine vaccinations
- Take out travel insurance - to cover you and your family for medical and other costs resulting from unexpected incidents and accidents
- Put together a travel kit with medication for pain, diarrhoeal medicine, oral rehydration salts, antiseptic lotion or ointment, adhesive bandages and other wound dressings, insect repellent, sunscreen, latex gloves, thermometer, motion sickness medicine, water purification tablets and compression stockings
- The tap water is India is not safe to drink.
- It is advised that you drink bottled or filtered water only and check the plastic seal on bottled water is intact. Avoid adding ice to your drinks and check that salad and fruit have been washed with filtered water prior to consumption.
- Traveller's diarrhoea is common in India. The best method to protect yourself is to ensure that you wash your hands with soap and water regularly. Where possible, opt for fully cooked fresh food and only eat fruit that you peel yourself.
- Avoid mosquito bites, as malaria is considered a risk to some travellers in India. In addition, other mosquito-borne illnesses that are present in India include dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis and Zika. Speak with your healthcare professional about whether or not you might need medication for malaria, 4-6 weeks prior to your departure. You can further protect yourself with insect repellent, wearing clothes that cover your arms and legs, and staying in accommodation that has air conditioning, fly nets or screened windows provided.
- Use condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, human papillomavirus, herpes, syphilis, hepatitis B and HIV.
- Diseases such as HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B can also be spread through body fluids such as blood and semen. To protect yourself, do not inject drugs, do not share needles or devices that can break the skin including those used for tattooing, piercings or acupuncture. Vaccinations are available for hepatitis B.
Malaria occurs in all areas of the country including Mumbai and Delhi. The exceptions are areas above 2000 metres such as Kashmir. Remember, malaria-transmitting mosquitoes primarily bite between dusk and dawn, but caution is advised at all times.
You can protect yourself against mosquito bites with:
- insect repellent
- wearing clothes that cover your arms and legs
- staying in accommodation that has fly nets or screens.
Speak with your healthcare professional about whether or not you might need medication for malaria, 4-6 weeks prior to your departure
Sources & Citations
- Worldometers, India Population (live). Available at: http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/india-population/ [Accessed 26 March 2020].
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. India. Available at: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2018/select-destinations/india [Accessed 16 April 2020].
- Lonely Planet. India. Available at: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india [Accessed 16 April 2020].
- Culture Trip. Why Rishikesh, India is Dubbed the Yoga Capital of the World. Available at: https://theculturetrip.com/asia/india/articles/why-rishikesh-india-is-dubbed-the-yoga-capital-of-the-world/ [Accessed 16 April 2020].
- World Health Organization. Vaccines. Available at: https://www.who.int/ith/vaccines/en/ [Accessed 16 April 2020].
- Australian Government Department of Health. National Immunisation Program Schedule. Available at: https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/immunisation/immunisation-throughout-life/national-immunisation-program-schedule [Accessed 16 April 2020].
- Australian Immunisation Handbook. Vaccination for international travellers. Available at: https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/vaccination-for-special-risk-groups/vaccination-for-international-travellers#expand-collapse-all-top [Accessed 16 April 2020].
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. India – Traveler View. Available at: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/india [Accessed 16 April 2020].
- London Vaccination Clinic. Goa. Available at: https://www.londonvaccinationclinic.co.uk/travel-vaccinations-for-goa-india/ [Accessed 16 April 2020].
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last-Minute Travelers. Available at: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/last-minute-travelers [Accessed 16 April 2020].
- Finder, Travel Vaccinations – What is a travel vaccine and can you claim it on health insurance? Available at: https://www.finder.com.au/travel-vaccinations [Accessed 16 April 2020].
- New South Wales Government. Mosquitoes are a health hazard – communicable diseases factsheet. Available at: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/infectious/factsheets/factsheets/mosquitoes-health-hazard.pdf [Accessed 16 April 2020].
- Lonely Planet, Health in India. Available at: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/practical-information/health-and-insurance/a/nar/b776f15a-c021-4460-8786-3b5d7429cf94/356195 [Accessed 16 April 2020].
- International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers. Country Health Advice – India. General Health Risks: Traveller's Diarrhea. Available at: https://www.iamat.org/country/india/risk/traveller-s-diarrhea [Accessed 16 April 2020].
- International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers. Country Health Advice – India. General Health Risks: Dengue. Available at: https://www.iamat.org/country/india/risk/dengue [Accessed 16 April 2020].
- International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers. Country Health Advice – India. General Health Risks: Sexually Transmitted Infections. Available at: https://www.iamat.org/country/india/risk/sexually-transmitted-infections [Accessed 16 April 2020]
SPANZ.SAPAS.18.04.0147(1) - Date of preparation April 2020Show All