Influenza and Travel

How to be prepared so that influenza will not get in your way when you travel.

Immunisation Coalition

I have the flu, can I travel?

If you are sick with flu-like symptoms, you should not travel. Do not travel until you have been fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medicine for at least 24 hours.

How should I prepare for my trip?

Before leaving you should:

  • Influenza vaccination before travel is always a wise precaution, particularly where outbreaks are occurring, and is particularly important for high-risk people.
  • Research the current flu activity in your destination.
  • Make sure you are up-to-date on your flu vaccine.
  • If you need a flu vaccination, get it at least two weeks before you travel.
  • Flu vaccinations should be available at your local travel clinic all year round.
  • Consider purchasing travel insurance.
  • Find out if your health insurance plan will cover medical care during your trip.
  • Consider purchasing additional insurance if you are staying for an extended period.
  • Research in-country health care resources in case of a medical emergency.

Countries such as Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India and Indonesia, have widespread and ongoing infections of H5N1 Avian Flu in their poultry. There have also been some cases of H7N9 Avian Flu detected in China.

Visit the World Health Organization website for the latest situation.

Seasonal flu vaccines do not protect against H5N1 or H7N9 influenza so the best way to prevent infection is to avoid any contact with sick or dead poultry. This includes avoiding visiting live poultry markets that may be infected with the Avian viruses when traveling. Also avoid sick people who might have been exposed to the virus in the above mentioned countries. 

Will the vaccine given in Australia protect me in other parts of the world?

Different strains of the influenza virus circulate throughout different parts of the world. The influenza vaccines that are produced are either a Northern Hemisphere vaccine, or a Southern Hemisphere vaccine. Each is manufactured in preparation for their respective winter months.

The WHO makes the recommendation for the different influenza strains that should be included in the vaccine for each hemisphere, based on year round surveillance by the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System (GISRS). This information is available on the WHO website.

It is unlikely that the northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere vaccines will be the same, although they may share common strains (such as the B strains). However, the Northern Hemisphere vaccine is not registered in Australia and, therefore, isn’t available here.

We recommend that you see your GP or travel doctor well before you plan to travel.

How can I stay healthy while away?

Avoid places where known pathogens are circulating. However in this era of COVID-19, additional measures should be undertaken:

  • Where possible exercise physical distancing
  • Remember to wash hands regularly with soap and water, or use a hand sanitiser
  • Use a face mask if in an enclosed area or physical distancing is not possible

I am abroad and I think I have the flu. What should I do?

If you have any flu-like symptoms:

  • Follow all local health recommendations.
  • For information on possible treatment, see here.
  • Seek medical care if you are severely ill or at high-risk for flu-related complications.
  • Contact an Australian embassy if you require assistance locating medical care.

What should I do upon my return:

Closely monitor your health for seven days. If you have any flu-like symptoms during that time, contact your GP if you are concerned. If you are at high-risk for flu-related complications seek medical attention quickly. Seek medical attention if symptoms become severe.

Page Published: 25 March 2018 | Page Updated: 21 July 2021