What Vaccinations Do You Need for Peru?
Travel vaccinations for Peru can be placed into three categories: routine, highly recommended and optional (with optional here meaning “well, it kind of depends on what you want to do”). No vaccines are considered essential, and none are required for entry into Peru, but you’d be wise to at least ask a doctor about the routine and recommended vaccinations, and give thought to the optional shots depending on your travel plans.
Below is a guide to all the travel vaccinations you may or may not need for Peru. Consider this information as a starting point, not as a substitute for actually talking to your doctor. And remember that some of these vaccines require a series of shots and/or a certain amount of time to take effect (sometimes six months or more), so don’t leave it too late.
Routine Travel Vaccinations for Peru
Routine vaccinations are things that you might have already had for, you know, life etc. But before you go traveling, you should make sure that you’re up to date on all these vaccines. They typically include:
- measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine
- diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine
- varicella (chickenpox) vaccine
- polio vaccine
- yearly flu shot
Have a chat with your doctor about these. He or she will be able to tell you which ones you’ve already had, which you might need to receive again, and which you do or don’t actually need for Peru. The chickenpox vaccine and yearly flu shot are two that you can probably do without.
Highly Recommended Vaccinations for Peru
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the following two vaccines for most travelers to Peru:
- Hepatitis A — Hepatitis A is a serious liver disease caused by the hepatitis A virus, which you can get from contaminated food and water. This is a definite concern in Peru, no matter how careful you are with food and drink, so consider this vaccine as highly recommended. The hepatitis A vaccine requires two shots for long-lasting protection, and the two shots should be taken six months apart.
- Typhoid — Typhoid is another nasty disease spread by contaminated food and water. Typhoid is quite common in Peru and most travelers should receive the vaccination. Travelers heading off the beaten path (such as hikers and trekkers) and anyone staying with Peruvian friends or relatives in areas with poor sanitation should definitely get the typhoid shot. If you’re a fan of street food and “adventurous eating” (as the CDC puts it), you’ll want to get it too.
Optional Vaccinations for Peru
These optional vaccinations are shots you might need depending on what you’ll be doing in Peru. They include:
- Hepatitis B — Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood and other bodily fluids, including semen. The risk is generally low, but travelers are at greater risk if they have unprotected sex; inject drugs; get tattoos or piercings; or receive a transfusion of unscreened blood. The vaccine requites three doses over a period of at least six months.
- Yellow Fever — Whether or not to get the yellow fever vaccine for Peru can be a tough choice, much like the shall-I-shan’t-I issue with antimalarials. But first: You do not need a yellow fever vaccination to enter Peru. You might, however, need a yellow fever vaccination certificate to enter other countries in South America (such as Bolivia) from Peru, so always check the individual yellow fever requirements for each country on your itinerary. If you’re traveling only in Peru, then the yellow fever vaccine is recommended for particular areas within the country. In general, the risk areas are located to the east of the Andes, in jungle locations below 2,300 m (7,545 feet) in elevation. If your itinerary is limited to Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu, you won’t need a yellow fever vaccination. If needed, the vaccine should be received at least 10 days before you travel; it lasts for ten years.
- Rabies — Most travelers do not need a rabies vaccination for Peru. Travelers who may want to consider the vaccine include people who’ll be spending extended periods of time in remote areas; outdoor adventure travelers, in particular cavers/spelunkers; and anyone who’ll be working with or around animals (especially dogs, cats or bats).
Note: there are currently no vaccines available to protect against malaria and dengue fever.