Italian explorer Marco Polo once proclaimed that Sri Lanka was the “best island of its size in the world”, and it certainly offers a diverse range of attractions for tourists to explore. The country boasts around 1600 km of tropical beach coastline, and 13% of its land surface has also been designated as Protected Wildlife Areas where tourists can see endangered animals such as Asian elephants and the Sri Lankan leopard.
To experience everything the country has to offer, the majority of foreign passport holders are required to apply for a Sri Lanka visa relevant to the purpose and duration of their stay. However, as the island nation is a tropical country with a number of disease-carrying insects, travelers are also advised to get vaccines to travel to Sri Lanka before their trip.
Why Do I Need Vaccines to Travel to Sri Lanka?
For travelers from most countries, there are no compulsory vaccinations for Sri Lanka by law, although it’s advised to get several injections before traveling because of the several infectious diseases present in the region.
Malaria was previously a huge problem in Sri Lanka. However, in 2016, the World Health Organization announced that it has all but been eradicated in the country and doctors presently advise that anti-malarial drugs are not necessary.
However, some other dangerous insect-borne illnesses are still a problem in the country, such as Dengue fever and Japanese B encephalitis. A vaccine is only available for the latter, so it’s important to try to avoid mosquito bites in Sri Lanka as much as possible.
Standards of hygiene can also be low-to-average in parts of the country, so it’s important to follow guidelines to avoid catching diseases such as Hepatitis A or E, or Typhoid, through contaminated food and water. However, the best way to prevent infection for many of these diseases is to get vaccines before traveling to Sri Lanka.
What Vaccines Are Needed to Travel to Sri Lanka?
The only compulsory shots needed to travel to Sri Lanka by international regulations is the yellow fever vaccination. However, this is only required if the traveler has visited a country in the yellow-fever zone in the six days before entering Sri Lanka:
- Central African Republic
- French Guiana
- Equatorial Guinea
- Sierra Leone
- Sao Tome and Principe
- United Republic of Uganda
Although not compulsory, all short-term travelers are advised to be up-to-date with the following vaccinations for Sri Lanka:
- Measles, Mumps, and Rubella
- Hepatitis A
Vaccines against the following are also advised for those planning to explore the Sri Lankan countryside or stay for longer periods:
- Hepatitis B
- Japanese B encephalitis
When to Get Vaccines to Travel to Sri Lanka
Travelers with the Sri Lanka ETA online visa (which allows for a maximum stay of 30 days in the country) should seek consultation on vaccines to travel to Sri Lanka at least 4-6 weeks prior to the date of departure.
Those traveling for longer in the country or on a trip which involves extensive time spend in Sri Lanka’s rural countryside are advised to attend an earlier consultation.