Routine vaccinations should be up to date when traveling to China although there are no “required” vaccinations. These are the recommended vaccinations for those planning to live in China:
- Hepatitis A. One shot protects for about a year, then a booster for about 20 years. About one in ten people experience mild headaches and a sore arm in the days after the shot.
- Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B vaccination involves a course of three injections over six months so it’s best to start them early. You can get your last shot when you arrive in Beijing as well. The result is lifetime immunity in most people. Side effects are rare, and amount to a headache and sore arm.
- Measles, Mumps and Rubella. Two doses of a combined vaccine unless you’ve had the diseases. It can cause a rash and flu-like symptoms.
- Typhoid. A single shot lasts for about two years, although protection is not 100%. Tablets are available instead of an injection, but they are no more effective and more likely to cause side effects.
- Varicella. Otherwise known as chickenpox, this disease can be serious in adults, talk to your doctor if you haven’t had it.
Although the following mostly affect those moving to more remote areas, many people will simply get all their vaccines just to be safe in case they do end up traveling to other parts of China:
- Influenza. Usually recommended for those over 65, or people with medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes, cancer or HIV although the general public also can receive vaccination. One dose lasts a year.
- Japanese B Encephalitis. If you’re travelling to rural areas, especially during the summer, this may be recommended.
- Pneumonia. Usually recommended for over 65 year olds, or for people with medical conditions (see Influenza). A single injection is given, and then a booster after five years.
- Rabies. Rabies vaccination requires three shots over 1-2 months, with the option of a booster after five years, which will last for about 10 years. Side effects can include a sore arm and headache. Strongly recommended for travelers to Tibet.
- Tuberculosis. Tuberculosis vaccination will probably be recommended by your doctor for children under five, and possibly for high risk travelers.