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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 6 weeks before you travel.

Image of passport and vaccinations certificate

Avoiding live vaccines

You shouldn’t have any live vaccines while you’re having chemotherapy, or for at least 6 months afterwards. This is because you have a weakened immune system.

In the UK, live vaccines include:

  • measles
  • rubella (German measles)
  • MMR (the triple vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella)
  • BCG (tuberculosis)
  • yellow fever
  • oral typhoid
  • shingles (Zostavax)

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 include:

  • diptheria, tetanus and polio (now only available as a combined vaccine for adults)
  • flu
  • hepatitis A and B
  • rabies
  • cholera
  • typhoid
  • meningitis
  • tick born encephalitis
  • japanese encephalitis

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.

Information and help

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