General information

The information on these pages should be used to research health risks and to inform the pre-travel consultation. For advice regarding safety and security please check the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website.

Travellers should ideally arrange an appointment with their health professional at least four to six weeks before travel. However, even if time is short, an appointment is still worthwhile. This appointment provides an opportunity to assess health risks taking into account a number of factors including destination, medical history, and planned activities. For those with pre-existing health problems, an earlier appointment is recommended.

While most travellers have a healthy and safe trip, there are some risks that are relevant to travellers regardless of destination. These may for example include road traffic and other accidents, diseases transmitted by insects or ticks, diseases transmitted by contaminated food and water, sexually transmitted infections, or health issues related to the heat or cold.

All travellers should ensure they have adequate travel health insurance.

A list of useful resources including advice on how to reduce the risk of certain health problems is available below.

Resources

Vaccine recommendations

Details of vaccination recommendations and requirements are provided below.

All Travellers

Travellers should be up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters as recommended in the UK. These vaccinations include for example measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and diphtheria-tetanus-polio vaccine. Country specific diphtheria recommendations are not provided here. Diphtheria tetanus and polio are combined in a single vaccine in the UK. Therefore, when a tetanus booster is recommended for travellers, diphtheria vaccine is also given. Should there be an outbreak of diphtheria in a country, diphtheria vaccination guidance will be provided.

Those who may be at increased risk of an infectious disease due to their work, lifestyle choice, or certain underlying health problems should be up to date with additional recommended vaccines. See the individual chapters of the ‘Green Book’ Immunisation against infectious disease for further details.

Certificate Requirements

There are no certificate requirements under International Health Regulations.

Most Travellers

The vaccines in this section are recommended for most travellers visiting this country. Information on these vaccines can be found by clicking on the blue arrow. Vaccines are listed alphabetically.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a viral infection transmitted through contaminated food and water or by direct contact with an infectious person. Symptoms are often mild or absent in young children, but the disease becomes more serious with advancing age.  Recovery can vary from weeks to months. Following hepatitis A illness, immunity is lifelong.

Those at increased risk include travellers visiting friends and relatives, long stay travellers, and those visiting areas of poor sanitation.

Prevention

All travellers should take care with personal, food and water hygiene.

Hepatitis A vaccination

As hepatitis A vaccine is well tolerated and affords long-lasting protection, it is recommended for all previously unvaccinated travellers.

Hepatitis A in brief

Tetanus

Tetanus is caused by a toxin released from Clostridium tetani and occurs worldwide.  Tetanus bacteria are present in soil and manure and may be introduced through open wounds such as a puncture wound, burn or scratch.

Prevention

Travellers should thoroughly clean all wounds and seek appropriate medical attention.

Tetanus vaccination
  • Travellers should have completed a primary vaccination course according to the UK schedule.
  • If travelling to a country where medical facilities may be limited, a booster dose of a tetanus-containing vaccine is recommended if the last dose was more than ten years ago even if five doses of vaccine have been given previously.

Country specific information on medical facilities may be found in the ‘health’ section of the FCO foreign travel advice website.

Tetanus in brief

Some Travellers

The vaccines in this section are recommended for some travellers visiting this country. Information on when these vaccines should be considered can be found by clicking on the arrow. Vaccines are listed alphabetically.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a viral infection; it is transmitted by exposure to infected blood or body fluids. This mostly occurs during sexual contact or as a result of blood-to-blood contact (for example from contaminated equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing or body piercing procedures, and sharing of intravenous needles). Mothers with the virus can also transmit the infection to their baby during childbirth.

Hepatitis B in Vanuatu

2% or more of the population are known or thought to be persistently infected with the hepatitis B virus (intermediate/high prevalence).

Prevention

Travellers should avoid contact with blood or body fluids. This includes:

  • avoiding unprotected sexual intercourse.
  • avoiding tattooing, piercing, public shaving, and acupuncture (unless sterile equipment is used).
  • not sharing needles or other injection equipment.
  • following universal precautions if working in a medical/dental/high risk setting.

A sterile medical equipment kit may be helpful when travelling to resource poor areas.

Hepatitis B vaccination

Vaccination could be considered for all travellers, and is recommended for those whose activities or medical history put them at increased risk including:

  • those who may have unprotected sex.
  • those who may be exposed to contaminated needles through injecting drug use.
  • those who may be exposed to blood or body fluids through their work (e.g. health workers).
  • those who may be exposed to contaminated needles as a result of having medical or dental care e.g. those with pre-existing medical conditions and those travelling for medical care abroad including those intending to receive renal dialysis overseas.
  • long-stay travellers
  • those who are participating in contact sports.
  • families adopting children from this country.

Hepatitis B in brief

Rabies

Rabies is a viral infection which is usually transmitted following contact with the saliva of an infected animal most often via a bite, scratch or lick to an open wound or mucous membrane (such as on the eye, nose or mouth). Although many different animals can transmit the virus, worldwide most cases follow a bite or scratch from an infected dog. Bats are also an important source of infection in some countries.

Rabies symptoms can take some time to develop, but when they do the condition is almost always fatal.

The risk of exposure is increased by certain activities and length of stay (see below). Children are at increased risk as they are less likely to avoid contact with animals and to report a bite, scratch or lick.

Rabies in Vanuatu

Rabies has only been reported in wild animals in this country, therefore most travellers are considered to be at low risk for rabies. Bats may also carry rabies-like viruses in this country.

Prevention
  • Travellers should avoid contact with wild animals.  Rabies is preventable with prompt post-exposure treatment.
  • Following a possible exposure, wounds should be thoroughly cleansed and an urgent local medical assessment sought, even if the wound appears trivial. Although rabies has not been reported in domestic animals, it is still sensible to seek prompt medical advice if bitten or scratched by all animals.
  • Post-exposure treatment and advice should be in accordance with national guidelines.
Rabies vaccination
  • Pre-exposure vaccines are recommended for those who are at increased risk due to their work (e.g. laboratory staff working with the virus, those working with animals or health care workers who may be caring for infected patients).
  • Pre-exposure vaccines could be considered for those who are at increased risk of exposure to wild animals.

 Rabies in brief

Tuberculosis (TB)

TB is a bacterial infection transmitted most commonly by inhaling respiratory droplets from an infectious person. This is usually following prolonged or frequent close contact.

Tuberculosis in Vanuatu

The average annual incidence of TB is greater than or equal to 40 cases per 100,000 population (further details).

Prevention

Travellers should avoid close contact with individuals known to have infectious pulmonary (lung) TB.

Those at risk during their work (such as healthcare workers) should take appropriate infection control precautions.

Tuberculosis (BCG) vaccination

According to current national guidance, BCG vaccine should be recommended for those at increased risk of developing severe disease and/or of exposure to TB infection e.g. when the average annual incidence of TB is greater than or equal to 40 cases per 100,000 population. See Public Health England’s Immunisation against infectious disease, the ‘Green Book’.

For travellers, BCG vaccine is also recommended for:

  • unvaccinated, children under 16 years of age, who are going to live for more than 3 months in this country. A tuberculin skin test is required prior to vaccination for all children from 6 years of age and may be recommended for some younger children.

  • unvaccinated, tuberculin skin test negative individuals under 35 years of age at risk due to their work such as healthcare workers, prison staff and vets. Healthcare workers may be vaccinated over the age of 35 years following a careful risk assessment.

There are specific contraindications associated with the BCG vaccine and health professionals must be trained to administer this vaccine intradermally (just under the top layer of skin).

Following administration, no further vaccines should be administered in the same limb for 3 months.

The BCG vaccine is given once only, booster doses are not recommended.

Tuberculosis in brief

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection transmitted through contaminated food and water.  Previous typhoid illness may only partially protect against re-infection.

Travellers who will have access to safe food and water are likely to be at low risk. Those at increased risk include travellers visiting friends and relatives, frequent or long-stay travellers to areas where sanitation and food hygiene are likely to be poor.

Typhoid in Vanuatu

Typhoid fever is known or presumed to occur in this country.

Prevention

All travellers should take care with personal, food and water hygiene.

Typhoid vaccination
  • Both oral and injectable typhoid vaccinations are available, and vaccination is recommended for laboratory personnel who may handle the bacteria for their work.
  • Vaccination could be considered for those whose activities put them at increased risk (see above).

Typhoid in brief

Malaria

Malaria is a serious illness caused by infection of red blood cells with a parasite called Plasmodium. The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes which predominantly feed between dusk and dawn.

Symptoms usually begin with a fever (high temperature) of 38°C (100°F) or more. Other symptoms may include feeling cold and shivery, headache, nausea, vomiting and aching muscles. Symptoms may appear between eight days and one year after the infected mosquito bite.

Prompt diagnosis and treatment is required as people with malaria can deteriorate quickly. Those at higher risk of malaria, or of severe complications from malaria, include pregnant women, infants and young children, the elderly, travellers who do not have a functioning spleen and those visiting friends and relatives.

Prevention

Travellers should follow an ABCD guide to preventing malaria:

Awareness of the risk – Risk depends on the specific location, season of travel, length of stay, activities and type of accommodation.
Bite prevention – Travellers should take mosquito bite avoidance measures.
Chemoprophylaxis – Travellers should take antimalarials (malaria prevention tablets) if appropriate for the area (see below). No antimalarials are 100% effective but taking them in combination with mosquito bite avoidance measures will give substantial protection against malaria.
Diagnosis – Travellers who develop a fever of 38°C [100°F] or higher more than one week after being in a malaria risk area, or who develop any symptoms suggestive of malaria within a year of return should seek immediate medical care. Emergency standby treatment may be considered for those going to remote areas with limited access to medical attention.

Risk Areas

  • There is a risk of malaria in the whole of Vanuatu: atovaquone/proguanil OR doxycycline OR mefloquine recommended.

Recommended Antimalarials

The recommended antimalarials are listed below. If these are not suitable please seek further specialist advice.

Please note, the advice for children is different, the dose is based on body weight and some antimalarials are not suitable.

Atovaquone/Proguanil

Atovaquone 250mg/Proguanil 100mg combination preparation:

  • start one to two days before arrival in the malaria risk area
  • for adults, one tablet is taken every day, ideally at the same time of day for the duration of the time in a malaria risk area and daily for seven days after leaving the malaria risk area
  • take with a fatty meal if possible
  • for children paediatric tablets are available and the dose is based on body weight (see table below)

Doxycycline

Doxycycline 100mg:

  • start one to two days before arrival in the malaria risk area
  • adults and children over 12 years of age take 100mg daily, ideally at the same time of day for the duration of the time in a malaria risk area and daily for four weeks after leaving the malaria risk area
  • take with food if possible; avoid taking this drug just before lying down
  • not suitable for children under 12 years of age

Mefloquine

Mefloquine 250mg:

  • this drug is taken weekly, adults take one 250mg tablet each week
  • start two to three weeks before arrival in the malaria risk area and continue weekly until four weeks after leaving the malaria risk area
  • for children the dose is based on the body weight (see table below)

Resources

Other risks

There are some risks that are relevant to all travellers regardless of destination. These may for example include road traffic and other accidents, diseases transmitted by insects or ticks, diseases transmitted by contaminated food and water, sexually transmitted infections, or health issues related to the heat or cold. Some additional risks (which may be present in all or part of this country) are mentioned below and are presented alphabetically.

Dengue

Dengue is a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes which predominantly feed between dawn and dusk.  It causes a flu-like illness, which can occasionally develop into a more serious life-threatening form of the disease. Severe dengue is rare in travellers.

The mosquitoes that transmit dengue are most abundant in towns, cities and surrounding areas. All travellers to dengue areas are at risk. 

Dengue in Vanuatu

Dengue is known or has the potential to occur in this country.

Prevention

  • All travellers should avoid mosquito bites particularly between dawn and dusk.
  • There is no vaccination or medication to prevent dengue.

Dengue in brief

Zika Virus

Zika virus (ZIKV) is a viral infection transmitted by mosquitoes which predominantly feed between dawn and dusk. A small number of cases of sexual transmission of ZIKV have also been reported. Most people infected with ZIKV have no symptoms. When symptoms do occur they are usually mild and short-lived. Serious complications and deaths are not common. However, there is now scientific consensus that Zika virus is a cause of congenital Zika syndrome (microcephaly and other congenital anomalies) and Guillain-Barré syndrome.

Zika virus in Vanutatu

This country is considered to have a low risk of Zika virus transmission

Prevention 

  • All travellers should avoid mosquito bites particularly between dawn and dusk.
  • There is no vaccination or medication to prevent ZIKV infection.

Pregnant women should seek medical advice if they develop ZIKV symptoms, and contact their GP on return.

Zika virus in brief

Important News

03 Aug 2017

Zika virus – update and advice for travellers

Following an expert review, three risk ratings for areas of Zika virus transmission have been defined - Advice for travellers visiting these areas has Read more

Outbreaks

06 Jan 2017 Vanuatu

As of 5 January 2017, a total of 4,011 suspected cases have been reported between 11 November and 5 January 2017.

Human

Vector-Borne

Updates 3

Verified

WHO - Read more