Posted on Jun 15, 2016 by Rob McBroom
The summer is here and many of us have plans for a vacation in the coming months. Some of us will be heading home, while others will be sticking around Asia visiting some of the region's top destinations. Others still may be heading further afield on more intriguing adventures. Regardless of your destination, there are a number of things that all travelers leaving China should consider. One of the most important is vaccinations.
In this article we cover all you need to know about getting travel vaccinations in China, and how you can find out what vaccinations you will need for the countries you are visiting.
Do I need vaccinations before I travel?
When traveling abroad, you will be exposed to a variety of diseases and illnesses that you may not normally be exposed to while living in China. The fact of the matter is that there is no single location on Earth where you will not be at risk, this is especially true if you will be traveling with infants, elderly and expectant mothers, who could all be at an increased risk of contracting a disease while traveling.
That said, it can be confusing when trying to figure out whether you actually need to get vaccinated, and if so, which vaccines you will need. As a general rule of thumb, medical and travel experts all recommend ensuring that your basic immunizations are up to date and, at the very least, you and anyone traveling with you has had their MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) and TDR (Tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) shots.
Beyond that, the vaccinations needed will vary depending on region, country, and even district you will be visiting. This means that you are probably going to need to do a bit of research before you leave. The vast majority of travel and health experts recommend the following two options:
1. Research your destination online
There are a number of online resources that doctors and travel clinics will use to determine whether you will need vaccinations for the countries you are traveling to. Three of the most popular sites used by expats in our offices include the CDC's Travel website, which has a useful tool you can use to select what type of trip you are doing and locations you will be visiting, as well as your current health or any health concerns that may be of an issue in your destination. The CDC also provides an overview of each country including recommended vaccinations, diseases to be aware of, any ongoing health concerns, and preventative measures. Of course, it is important to note here that the CDC is aimed at Americans living in the US, so some of the information presented may not be relevant for those living in China.
The second popular resource is Fit For Travel, which is run by the National Health System of the UK. Like the CDC site above, Fit For Travel provides in-depth advice and information on recommended vaccines and precautions that should be taken in the country of your destination. As this site is curated by the NHS, the information provided is centered around people living in the UK that are considering traveling to other countries.
Finally, our staff have also found the Government of Canada's Travel Vaccination site to be useful as well. This site provides information including recommended vaccines for your destination and things you should do to ensure you remain healthy while in that country. Beyond that, the site also provides profiles on each country including visa requirements, culture information, security, and any safety advisories people should be aware of. Again, it is important to note here that the information presented on this site is aimed at Canadians in Canada, so some of it e.g., the visa requirements for each country, may be different for you.
2. Talk with a travel vaccination expert
While the sites above are for residents of their respective countries, they do provide useful general information that can be used to help inform you about vaccinations you may need. One thing we have noted, however, is that the information for some countries will be different. This means that if you do need vaccinations it would be a good idea to visit a travel vaccination expert in your city.
They will be able to provide you the most relevant information around what vaccinations you will need, and even provide the injections.
How can I find travel clinics in China?
In China, you have a number of options of where you can get vaccinations for travel. Many of the major international hospitals in larger cities will have dedicated immunization clinics, while others will have trained specialists in vaccinations. There are also a variety of clinics that can provide advice and jabs as well. Below are a few options for some of the major cities in China.
The Shanghai United Family Hospital - Offers immunizations, usually given by a general practitioner.
The Shanghai International Travel Healthcare Center - Two locations in Shanghai that offer travel specific advice and immunization. The centers can also conduct health screenings for visas to certain countries like Canada and Australia.
Parkway Health - Doctors at Parkway can give immunizations if they are currently available at the hospitals. If not, they will usually refer you to the Travel Healthcare Center.
Local hospitals - These may have vaccinations, but the quality and stock may be limited. You will also likely want to bring a Chinese speaking friend if you aren't confident in your grasp of the language, as doctors likely won't be able to speak English.
Beijing International Travel Healthcare Center - This center should offer travel immunizations or be able to recommend a location where you can get them.
International SOS clinic - A popular clinic in Beijing that does offer immunizations.
Beijing United Family Hospital - Like the Shanghai branch, the main hospital in Beijing, along with a number of clinics, can offer vaccinations.
Local hospitals - Many public hospitals will offer vaccinations, but the quality and availability may be limited.
Guangdong Healthcare Center for International Travel Headquarters - Located in the Guangdong Exit and Entry Inspection & Quarantine Bureau in Guangzhou, this center can give immunizations for travel.
Eur Am International Medical Center - Located in Guangzhou, this expat-centric clinic offers immunizations and information of travel health.
Shenzhen Wuzhou Chinese Western Union Medical Hospital (International Dept) - Has western trained and English speaking doctors who can help either provide advice on where to get immunizations, or provide them if they are available.
International SOS clinic in Shenzhen - Expat-oriented clinic in Shenzhen that offers a wide variety of medical care from western trained doctors. They usually have common immunizations in stock, and should be able to refer you to another center if they don't.
Hong Kong - The region's close proximity to Hong Kong makes it fairly easy for many expats to head to the city's various private hospitals and clinics for immunizations. The government has public centers, but you will need to book at least 6 weeks before you travel. Also, most of the private hospitals have clinics that can provide immunizations.
Will my insurance cover this?
Before you get your immunizations, we highly recommend checking your health insurance plan details, as not every plan will cover travel immunizations, while others will have a yearly limit that may be low or limit what type of vaccination is covered. You can also talk with the experts at Pacific Prime China. We can guide you on not only where to get your shots, but also whether your existing plan will cover it.
We can also recommend the best insurance plan on the market that will not only meet your other coverage needs, but also cover immunizations. Visit our website today to learn more.