Travel vaccinations… what a drag. Unfortunately, you need to start thinking about vaccinations for Peru well before you travel, as some vaccines require multiple shots or need to be administered a certain amount of time in advance to be effective.
Reader beware: what follows is a quick guide to Peru travel vaccines. Your doctor should always have the final word about travel vaccinations and other related medical issues, no matter how much you hate going to the doctor.
Routine Vaccinations for Travel in Peru (and Ecuador, Bolivia etc)
Routine vaccinations are the kind of jabs that most people have as a matter of course, whether traveling or staying at home. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends up-to-date routine vaccines for all travelers. In many cases, you’ll have had these shots when you were a kid, but you might need a booster shot before you travel. Your doctor can tell you what you need by looking at your vaccine history. Immunizations or boosters may include:
- measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
- diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus (DPT)
- varicella vaccine (chickenpox)
- flu shot (yearly flu jab)
- polio vaccine
Optional and Recommended Vaccines for Peru
- Hepatitis A (CDC recommends for most travelers) — You can get hepatitis A through contaminated food (and we’re not just talking street food here) and water, so this shot is a no-brainer for Peru. You normally receive the single dose shot a week or two before travel.
- Hepatitis B (CDC recommends for some travelers) — Hep B is the blight of all heavy metal rock stars: you can get it through sexual contact, tattoos, piercings and other blood-related work. This is one to talk about with your doctor — but if you want to rock’n’roll in Peru, this one might be for you. The standard course of injections begins up to six months before travel (quicker options are available).
- Rabies (CDC recommends for some travelers) — It sounds scary, it is scary. But there’s a good chance you won’t need the rabies vaccine for Peru unless you’ll be spending time in certain situations or locations. Read more about rabies in Peru.
- Typhoid (CDC recommends for most travelers) — Like hepatitis A, you can get typhoid through contaminated food and water (read more about drinking water in Peru). If you’ll be staying in rural or less developed areas of Peru, you should definitely consider a typhoid jab. The CDC also recommends the jab if you’re an “adventurous eater.” You are, right?
- Yellow Fever (CDC recommends for some travelers) — Yellow is spread by infected mosquitoes. The yellow fever jab depends on your travel plans, particularly your intended itinerary. Yellow fever risk areas are normally located in jungle areas to the east of the Andean Range, at elevations below 7,550 feet (2,300 m). Peru does not have a yellow fever entry requirement (you don’t need the certificate to enter the country), but other South American nations do (always check in advance before leaving Peru for another destination).
A Note About Dengue Fever and Malaria in Peru
Infected mosquitoes spread malaria and dengue fever in much the same way as they spread yellow fever. However, no effective vaccine currently exist for malaria or dengue.
Depending on your travel plans, your doctor might recommend antimalarial drugs (chemoprophylaxis) for Peru. No such drugs exist for dengue.
You should always protect yourself against mosquito bites in order to prevent mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and yellow fever.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — Health Information for Travelers to Peru
Fit for Travel (UK NHS website) — Peru