Vaccinations

Check if you need any vaccinations before travelling to your destination. It’s a good idea to do this around six weeks before you leave. Many vaccines exist that can protect you from common infectious diseases. Some, however, are unsuitable for people with HIV.

There are two types of vaccine. Live vaccines are usually created from a weakened version of the virus or bacteria that is being vaccinated against. Inactive vaccines contain killed versions of the pathogen, or a fragment of it. Live vaccines can cause problems for people with HIV whose immune system has been weakened.

Discussing your travel plans with a doctor who knows your HIV status and is familiar with your current state of health is really important. They will be able to assess which vaccines you can safely receive. It may be safe to have a live vaccine if your immune system is strong enough (usually above 400 cells/mm3) to deal with it.

If you are planning to visit an area where the risk of certain conditions is very high, and it is not considered safe for you to have a live vaccine, you may be advised not to travel to that area.

You can find out more about travel vaccinations for people with HIV in the Travel section of our online resource Social and legal issues for people with HIV.

Receiving your vaccinations

What vaccines you need depend on the type of diseases that exist in the country (or countries) you are visiting.

The NHS website FitForTravel and the National Travel Health Network Centre (NaTHNaC) provide country-specific information and advice about vaccines and other travel-health topics.

If you have discussed vaccinations with your HIV doctor, and they cannot provide the vaccinations for you, you can receive some vaccinations from your GP practice or hospital travel clinic. Otherwise, private vaccination clinics will provide most of the vaccinations you need. NaTHNaC provides a tool to locate your local yellow fever vaccine centre.

Some vaccinations are free on the NHS. Generally, however, you will need to pay for travel-related vaccines.

Common travel vaccines

  • Cholera (WC /rBS)
  • Hepatitis A (All people with HIV are recommended to be vaccinated against hepatitis A, unless they are naturally immune)
  • Hepatitis B (All people with HIV are recommended to be vaccinated against hepatitis B, unless they are naturally immune)
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)(Only if CD4 count is higher than 200 cells/mm3 and if there is a real risk of infection)
  • Meningococcus (ACWY) (Mandatory for entry into some countries; it can be used safely in people with HIV)
  • Rabies
  • Tetanus-diphtheria /parenteral poliomyelitis (Td /IPV)
  • Tick-borne encephalitis
  • Typhoid (ViCPS)
  • Yellow fever (Mandatory for entry into some countries/Only if CD4 count is higher than 200 cells/mm3 and if there is a real risk of infection)
This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.