India is a developing country with a tropical climate and with diseases that our bodies are not used to. While no vaccine is obligatory, there are several India travel vaccinations that can help protect you and prevent health problems while traveling.
The most important thing is to take some precautions with water, food and to protect yourselves against mosquito bites.
As mentioned above there are no compulsory vaccinations needed for India (unless traveling from a yellow fever infected country). But depending on the areas where you travel, the length of your stay and the characteristics of the journey, some injections for India may be recommended.
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India Travel Vaccinations 2016.
Usually the most common vaccines and immunizations for India (or even when traveling to Nepal are): Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Typhoid fevers.
Other vaccines to consider though usually not recommended for short trips are: Cholera; Diphtheria; Hepatitis B; Japanese encephalitis and rabies.
More information on disease in India:
Hepatitis A in India: is transmitted by consumption of contaminated food or water or from person to person by the fecal-oral route. The risk is higher in areas with poor hygiene or health conditions.
Tetanus in India: transmission happens by contamination of wounds, burns or cuts with tetanus spores. These spores are common worldwide.
Typhoid in India: is transmitted primarily through consumption of contaminated food or water. The risk is higher in areas with poor hygiene or sanitation and where access to drinking water is limited.
Cholera in India: is transmitted by consumption of contaminated food or water. It is more common after floods or natural disasters, in areas having problems with drinking water and hygiene. It is an unusual infection in travelers if minimal precautions with food and water are followed.
Diphtheria in India: transmission from person to person through respiratory fluids.
Hepatitis B in India: infection by contaminated blood, needles and medical instruments and sex. The risk is higher for longer stays, work accidents, children (more exposed to wounds or scratches) or people who may need or seek surgical treatments.
Japanese encephalitis in India: contagion through bites of infected mosquitoes. This mosquitos develop in rice fields and bite mainly between dusk and dawn. The risk is greater for travelers who stay for long periods in rural areas, especially if the bites are not avoided.
Rabies in India: transmission by saliva of an infected animal, usually through a bite, scratch or saliva contact with a wound. Especially transmitted by stray dogs, bats, and monkeys, but any mammal can spread it. It is therefore essential that travelers avoid direct contact with these animals. Every bite should be washed immediately with water, soap and disinfectant immediately. In humans, rabies is diagnosed by testing saliva, blood and skin samples, and spinal fluid. Treatment is recommended if a health-care professional thinks that someone was exposed to a potentially infected animal. Rabies vaccines must be given within 48 hours (absolute maximum is a week) to prevent rabies from occurring after infection. A series of injections is need to be given. You will also get a tetanus vaccine injected, if not previously received, and sometimes antimicrobial treatment is advised too.
Polio in India: India is considered a polio-free country since March 2014. To maintain this situation, an oral polio vaccine for travelers coming from countries infected by this virus is mandatory.
In the USA many health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines, but you better check with your insurance provider before visiting the doctor. If your insurance does not cover vaccines, or you don’t have an insurance at all, the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program may be able to help. If you are 65 years and above and a Medicare beneficiary, Medicare will pay for hepatitis B, tetanus and diphtheria vaccines.
The cost of getting a vaccination at a travel clinic.
Typically includes an initial consultation fee ($15 to $100), the shot administration fee ($10 to $20), plus the cost of the vaccines (can range from $10 to $150 or more per dose). Some vaccinations require as many as three shots.
If you stay in the UK, vaccinations for the following conditions are usually available free on the NHS: cholera, diphtheria, polio and tetanus, such as combined hepatitis A and B, as well a typhoid.
Malaria and dengue in India.
Malaria is a serious disease transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine for malaria and dengue yet. There are antimalarial drugs (for example Chloroquine, Mefloquine, Quinine, Pyrimethamine and others) which are drugs designed to prevent infection (typically cost $50 – $200). The highest malaria risk is in the north-eastern states of India, including Assam and Orissa. Dengue symptoms include fever, headache, severe pain in joints, bones and muscles.
Malaria and dengue precaution is essential. Avoid mosquito bites, especially in the morning, during day and after sunset by using repellents. Wear cotton clothing in light colors and avoid using body perfumes. It might be a good advise to bring a mosquito net that is fairly large along with the necessary strings to tie it to the roof or walls.
The travel medical kit for India.
In the case of a trip to India your first aid kit should include the following:
Anti-diarrheal medication, antihistamine, decongestant, anti-motion sickness medication, medicine for pain or fever (such as aspirin, or ibuprofen), mild laxative, cough suppressant and expectorant, cough drops, antacid, anti-fungal and antibacterial ointments or creams, a 1% hydro-cortisone cream, Malarone, re-hydration salts, lubricating eye drops, aloe gel (in case of sunburns), mild sedative (Valerian) or other sleep aid (Melatonin), water purification tablets, iodine, alcohol, digital thermometer, gauze and tape.
Don´t forget the insect repellent containing DEET (30%-50%) or picaridin (up to 15%). You can use natural ones containing citronella grass too, but that doesn´t keep mosquito away for a longer period, so you need to apply it again every 3 hours! Sunscreen (preferably SPF 15 or greater) that offers UVA plus UVB protection.
Of course take the prescription medicines you usually take and last but not least pack lots of hand wipes!
If you are not feeling well after you get back from your trip, you may have to consult a doctor. Be sure to tell your doctor about your travel, (when you went, where you went, what you did). Don´t forget to mention if you were bitten or scratched by an animal while traveling. We will keep you updated on India travel vaccinations 2017.
Please be aware that this article on the recommended shots for India is intended to be informative and does not replace the information of a professional in any way.