Travel medicine focuses on disease prevention and injury risk minimisation with advice based upon the travelling person’s individual circumstances such as the location and purpose of travel, duration and time of year, as well as any underlying medical conditions or other risk factors.

Where to get travel advice

General Practitioners and travel medicine clinics can provide recommendations for preventative care and offer vaccination. There are also paediatricians who specialise in infectious diseases or immunisation who can provide advice for children (and their families). There are also a number of excellent websites that can be accessed to obtain country specific updates and information on emerging infections [see Resources below].

When to seek advice

For specific pre-travel advice, consultation with a health care professional is best done a minimum of 4-6 weeks prior to departure, which allows time to develop immunity following any recommended vaccines prior to arrival at the travel destination. Depending on which vaccines are recommended, a course of vaccines over time may be indicated before a person is considered fully protected.

As most travel specialists require a GP referral and may have wait times for an appointment, it is important to factor this into travel planning timelines.


Some routine vaccines can be given earlier than scheduled or as additional doses for the purposes of travel. Examples of this include:

  • MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine: an extra, funded dose can be administered between the age of 6-11 months if travelling to an area where measles are endemic
  • Meningococcal vaccines:
    • MenACWY (Nimenrix) vaccines can be administered from 6 weeks of age in order to provide earlier protection (scheduled on the NIP at 12 months of age and in year 10 of secondary school)
    • Meningococcal B (Bexsero) vaccines can also be given from 6 weeks of age (not funded on the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for all, but can be purchased privately for those who do not qualify for a funded dose)
  • Influenza vaccine: depending on the time of year and destination of travel, it may be advisable to receive an influenza vaccine
  • COVID-19 vaccines: due to ongoing emerging strains of COVID-19 disease, it is important to ensure a primary course of COVID-19 vaccination is complete along with any recommended boosters based on current recommendations.

Other travel-related vaccines, depending on your location and duration of travel might include:

Other precautions

Other preparations for travel may include:

  • considering the need for malaria prophylaxis (medication to prevent malaria)
  • measures to prevent mosquito-borne disease such as wearing long-sleeved clothing, mosquito nets, and insect repellent than contains DEET
  • food and water safety.

Immunocompromised and pregnant travellers

Individuals who are immunocompromised as a result of a medical condition or specific therapies are encouraged to seek travel advice early to maximise protection against vaccine preventable diseases prior to travel.

Similarly, women who are planning pregnancy or who are pregnant, should seek travel advice as early as possible to ensure optimum protection for both the mother and unborn baby. Women planning pregnancy with a high likelihood of travel, should consider vaccination prior to pregnancy noting that live-attenuated vaccines are contraindicated during pregnancy.

Visiting friends and relatives (VFR)

VFR travel is one of the most common reasons for international travel. A VFR traveller is an immigrant who travels from the high-income country they are living in to their lower-income country of birth to visit friends or relatives. A travel consult prior to VFR travel should consider whether an individual has had routine NIP vaccines or a history of vaccine preventable disease/s as well as vaccines indicated for the country they are travelling to. Rates of some travel-related infections are higher in this population and taking appropriate precautions such as vaccination and considering food and water safety is important in ensuring optimum protection.


MVEC travel related resources

Other resources

Authors: Nigel Crawford (Director SAEFVIC, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute) and Rachael McGuire (SAEFVIC Research Nurse, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute)

Reviewed by: Rachael Purcell (RCH Immunisation Fellow), Francesca Machingaifa (MVEC Education Nurse Coordinator) and Rachael McGuire (MVEC Education Nurse Coordinator)

Date: June 8, 2023

Materials in this section are updated as new information and vaccines become available. The Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre (MVEC) staff regularly reviews materials for accuracy.

You should not consider the information in this site to be specific, professional medical advice for your personal health or for your family’s personal health. For medical concerns, including decisions about vaccinations, medications and other treatments, you should always consult a healthcare professional.