Travel vaccinations

To visit some countries, you’ll need vaccinations before you leave. It’s a good idea to get advice about this at least 8 weeks before you travel.

Photograph of passport and vaccinations certificate

Avoiding live vaccines

You shouldn’t have any live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for up to 12 months afterwards. This is because you have a weakened immune system. The length of time depends on the treatment you are having. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how long you should avoid live vaccinations for.

In the UK, live vaccines include:

  • MMR (the triple vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella)
  • BCG (tuberculosis)
  • yellow fever
  • oral typhoid
  • shingles (Zostavax)
  • influenza nasal spray (Fluenz Tetra)

Contact with people who have had vaccines

It’s safe for you to be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections. But there is a very small risk from people who’ve had live vaccines taken by mouth. This includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies.

The rotavirus can be passed on for 2 weeks after having the vaccine. So during this time, be very careful about handwashing and avoid changing nappies if at all possible.

Another live vaccine given by mouth in the UK is the oral typhoid vaccine.

Inactivated vaccines

You can have inactivated vaccines safely. Inactivated vaccines contain a killed virus or bacteria. They might not work as well as usual if you have a weakened immune system.

Inactivated vaccines in the UK include:

  • diphtheria, tetanus and polio (a combined vaccine)
  • the flu vaccine you have by injection
  • rabies
  • cholera
  • typhoid vaccine you have by injection
  • meningitis
  • tick borne encephalitis
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • hepatitis A and B (available separately or as a combined vaccine)

The hepatitis A vaccine is available in different combinations depending on what you need. So you could also have it alone or together with the typhoid vaccine. 

Travel vaccinations you might need

Check with your specialist or cancer nurse before you have any vaccinations.

You can check which vaccinations you need for different countries on the NHS Scotland Fit for Travel website or the Travel Health Pro website.

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