A country that takes pride in its diversity, India is a melting pot not only of various cultures and ethnicities but also of geographical landscapes that provide a variety of experiences for both the domestic and international traveller. The contrasts of mountains and beaches, desserts and fertile plains, and of course, thumping metropolitan cities and sleepy rural towns are nothing short of scintillating.
However, flip side of this diversity is the varied living conditions of the people and the multiple diseases the fester here. As a developing nation, India is yet to eradicate many a disastrous disease and is unable to provide suitable health care on many an occasion. The wonders of this nation are best enjoyed if armed with appropriate vaccinations and medications. Foreign tourists must visit their personal physician or a travel health clinic at least 4 – 8 weeks before the intended date of departure to India to determine which vaccinations are required. The most important of them are:
1. Malaria – A vaccination for Malaria is essential when travelling to India unless your travel is restricted to areas above 2,000 m like states of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Sikkim.
2. Meningococcal – If you’re travelling to Meghalaya, Tripura or Mizoram in the North Eastern part of India, vaccination for meningococcal is essential.
3. Hepatitis A – Recommended for all travelling to India
4. Hepatitis B – Recommended for all travelling to India
5. Typhoid – Recommended for all travelling to India
6. Polio – A onetime booster shot is recommended for adult travellers who completed a childhood series of polio vaccinations but haven’t got any in adulthood.
7. Yellow Fever – Vaccination for yellow fever is required by those who are arriving from or transiting through a yellow fever infected area in Africa or the Americas. It is not recommended to others.
8. Japanese Encephalitis – Vaccination for Japanese encephalitis is recommended for those who intend to spend a month or more in rural areas and even for short term travellers who may spend substantial time outdoors in rural areas, especially after dusk.
9. Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR) – Two doses of the MMR vaccine are recommended for all travellers born after 1956, if they have not been vaccinated for these diseases before.
10. Tetanus-Diphtheria – Revaccination for these diseases are recommended every 10 years. Considering the high risk of exposure in India, this one’s a must.