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I'll be travelling to India soon. I'm not sure if I'll have to time to get vaccinated since it usually takes 2 weeks to kick in. Lonely Planet suggests a bunch of vaccinations. Have any of you guys been travelling to India without any form of vaccinations lately?

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I traveled to New Delhi in 2008 and didn't have vaccinations. I didn't get sick... but it could just as well have been luck on my part. I honestly didn't even think about getting vaccinations before going. –  Flimzy Nov 26 '11 at 18:48
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I've been to India twice, and I never bothered with them. –  Byron Schmuland Nov 26 '11 at 19:46
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Indian immigration officials only really care about yellow fever vaccination certificates if you have travelled or were in transit within past week in any region with high yellow fever risk. This is a prerequisite for clearing immigration checkpoints so don't ignore it; albeit this is something that will affect only a small set of travellers to India as there aren't many direct flights from South America or Africa. . World Health Organisation also only lists information about malaria and yellow fever. A more pragmatic advice on vaccinations needed for India can be found on NHS Fit For Travel:

Courses or boosters usually advised: diphtheria; tetanus; poliomyelitis; hepatitis A; typhoid (polio not required for Andaman and Nicobar islands).

Vaccines sometimes advised: hepatitis B; rabies; Japanese encephalitis; cholera.

Assuming you have followed your country's standard immunisation course, whether you really need a vaccination depends. If you're going for a couple of days or a short 1-2 week trip, you probably don't need any of these.

For longer term travellers:

  • If you plan to travel by trains or local public transport, I'd highly recommend getting a tetanus booster. Especially on public buses many surfaces are made of sheet metal and chances are that if it's old, it's going to have sharp corners you might jab yourself on. This is probably erring too much on the side of caution; still, you're better off getting one than panicking once you're on the road and not near a major city.
  • Any of the water-borne disease vaccinations such as cholera, typhoid, hepatitis A/B: this really depends. Some travellers are made of sterner stuff and can walk away with Delhi belly at worst. Others are not - I've contracted typhoid twice in India, for instance (not when travelling though, grew up there). This is a call you need to take. If you plan to travel a lot to semi-urban/rural areas, then this will be sensible precaution to take.

Also, if you plan to travel for a longer term but haven't had time yet to get your vaccinations before flying in, consider getting vaccinated in India. You'll probably fly into a major city like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, or Kolkata and the standard of healthcare is generally pretty good in all these cities. Cost of private outpatient healthcare is relatively very cheap in India and you can just walk in without an appointment and get your vaccinations for a fraction of the cost of getting it in your home country. Most private clinics and practices have English-speaking staff and good standards of quality control. If pressed for ideas, just search online for 'Apollo Clinic' or 'Max Medicentre' in the particular city you're staying in - these are well-known private clinic chains. (Prices are slightly higher than usual at these chain private clinics.)

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I second the recommendation to get the shots in India itself. Some or most of these may be both very difficult to get somewhere else, and much more expensive if you do. Also, for what it is worth, I do recommend getting shots when travelling. Better to be safe than sorry. –  Faheem Mitha Mar 4 '13 at 9:04
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My first port of call for vaccinations is the World Health Organisation (Apologies, can't link directly to India, select it from the drop down).

Essentially they're concerned if you've come from a Yellow Fever area, and should have both the book + stamp to prove vaccination, and of course have had the vaccination. Of course if you've not been to those countries, then it's not as important. They recommend not getting the Yellow Fever vaccination for India.

The other concern is Malaria. Below 2000m it exists throughout the country. Unfortunately there's no vaccination, and some strains are even resistant to some drugs. You'll need to look at what area you're going to, and then find out if it's worth getting a drug to take while in that area (they're simple tablets). Your GP or travel doctor can advise.

Personally if there's a risk of Malaria, I take the pills. They're cheap, don't seem to give me side effects, and I've seen people who have had Malaria and would rather not take that risk.

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