Before visiting India, you may need to get the following vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable diseases and other diseases you might be at risk for at your destination:
(Note: Your doctor or health-care provider will determine what you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, and planned activities.)
To have the most benefit, see a health-care provider at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for your vaccines to take effect and to start taking medicine to prevent malaria, if you need it.
Even if you have less than 4 weeks before you leave, you should still see a health-care provider for needed vaccines, anti-malaria drugs and other medications and information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while traveling.
Although yellow fever is not a disease risk in India, the government requires some travelers arriving from or transiting through countries with risk of yellow fever virus transmission to present proof of yellow fever vaccination. If you will be traveling to India from any country other than the United States or transiting through another country on your way from the United States, this requirement may affect you.
Be sure your routine vaccinations are up-to-date. Check the links below to see which vaccinations adults and children should get.
Routine vaccines, as they are often called, such as for influenza, chickenpox (or varicella), polio, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), and diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) are given at all stages of life.
Routine vaccines are recommended even if you do not travel. Although childhood diseases, such as measles, rarely occur in the United States, they are still common in many parts of the world. A traveler who is not vaccinated would be at risk for infection.
Malaria Contact for Health-Care Providers
For assistance with the diagnosis or management of suspected cases of malaria, call the CDC Malaria Hotline: 770-488-7788 or toll-free 1-855-856-4713 (M-F, 9 am-5 pm, Eastern time). For clinicians needing emergency consultation after hours, call 770-488-7100 and ask to speak with a CDC Malaria Branch clinician.
A Special Note about Antimalarial Drugs
You should purchase your antimalarial drugs before travel. Drugs purchased overseas may not be manufactured according to United States standards and may not be effective. They also may be dangerous, contain counterfeit medications or contaminants, or be combinations of drugs that are not safe to use.
Halofantrine (marketed as Halfan) is widely used overseas to treat malaria. CDC recommends that you do NOT use halofantrine because of serious heart-related side effects, including deaths. You should avoid using antimalarial drugs that are not recommended unless you have been diagnosed with life-threatening malaria and no other options are immediately available.
More Information About MalariaMalaria is always a serious disease and may be a deadly illness. Humans get malaria from the bite of a mosquito infected with the parasite. Prevent this serious disease by seeing your health-care provider for a prescription antimalarial drug and by protecting yourself against mosquito bites (see below).
Travelers to malaria risk-areas in India, including infants, children, and former residents of India, should take one of the antimalarial drugs listed in the box above.
SymptomsMalaria symptoms may include
- body aches
- nausea and vomiting
Malaria may cause anemia and jaundice. Malaria infections with Plasmodium falciparum, if not promptly treated, may cause kidney failure, coma, and death. Despite using the protective measures outlined above, travelers may still develop malaria up to a year after returning from a malarious area. You should see a doctor immediately if you develop a fever anytime during the year following your return and tell the physician of your travel.
Items to Bring With YouMedicines you may need:
- The prescription medicines you take every day. Make sure you have enough to last during your trip. Keep them in their original prescription bottles and always in your carry-on luggage. Be sure to follow security guidelines, if the medicines are liquids.
- Antimalarial drugs, if traveling to a malaria-risk area in India and prescribed by your doctor.
- Medicine for diarrhea, usually over-the-counter.
Other items you may need:
- Iodine tablets and portable water filters to purify water if bottled water is not available. See A Guide to Water Filters, A Guide to Commercially-Bottled Water and Other Beverages, and Safe Food and Water for more detailed information.
- Sunblock and sunglasses for protection from harmful effects of UV sun rays.
- Antibacterial hand wipes or alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
To prevent insect/mosquito bites, bring:
- Lightweight long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and a hat to wear outside, whenever possible.
- Flying-insect spray to help clear rooms of mosquitoes. The product should contain a pyrethroid insecticide; these insecticides quickly kill flying insects, including mosquitoes.
- Bed nets treated with permethrin, if you will not be sleeping in an air-conditioned or well-screened room and will be in malaria-risk areas.
Staying Healthy During Your Trip
- Using insect repellent (bug spray) with 30%-50% DEET. Picaridin, available in 7% and 15% concentrations, needs more frequent application. There is less information available on how effective picaridin is at protecting against all of the types of mosquitoes that transmit malaria.
- Wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and a hat outdoors.
- Remaining indoors in a screened or air-conditioned area during the peak biting period for malaria (dusk and dawn).
- Sleeping in beds covered by nets treated with permethrin, if not sleeping in an air-conditioned or well-screened room.
- Spraying rooms with products effective against flying insects, such as those containing pyrethroid.
Prevent Animal Bites and ScratchesDirect contact with animals can spread diseases like rabies or cause serious injury or illness. It is important to prevent animal bites and scratches.
- Be sure you are up to date with tetanus vaccination.
- Do not touch or feed any animals, including dogs and cats. Even animals that look like healthy pets can have rabies or other diseases.
- Help children stay safe by supervising them carefully around all animals.
- If you are bitten or scratched, wash the wound well with soap and water and go to a doctor right away.
- After your trip, be sure to tell your doctor or state health department if you were bitten or scratched during travel.
Be Careful about Food and WaterDiseases from food and water are the leading cause of illness in travelers. Follow these tips for safe eating and drinking:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially before eating. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel (with at least 60% alcohol).
- Drink only bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes.
- Do not eat food purchased from street vendors.
- Make sure food is fully cooked.
- Avoid dairy products, unless you know they have been pasteurized.
Avoid InjuriesCar crashes are a leading cause of injury among travelers. Protect yourself from these injuries by:
- Not drinking and driving.
- Wearing your seat belt and using car seats or booster seats in the backseat for children.
- Following local traffic laws.
- Wearing helmets when you ride bikes, motorcycles, and motor bikes.
- Not getting on an overloaded bus or mini-bus.
- Hiring a local driver, when possible.
- Avoiding night driving.
Prevent Altitude Illness and SunburnIf you visit the Himalayan Mountains, ascend gradually to allow time for your body to adjust to the high altitude, which can cause insomnia, headaches, nausea, and altitude illness. If you experience these symptoms descend to a lower altitude and seek medical attention. Untreated altitude illness can be fatal.
Use sunblock rated at least 15 SPF, especially at high altitudes, where the risk of sunburn is greater.