Posted on Sep 25, 2015 by Rob McBroom
Moving to China, or even moving within China, can be an exciting and stressful experience. Once you have a job and decide to relocate the first thing you are going to need to do is to get your Z visa which will allow you to enter the country as a worker. One of the requirements of a Z visa is a mandatory health check, and while everyone will get this check, there is one thing that some may forget and that is vaccines.
If you are moving from another country, it is suggested by both the Chinese government and many disease control centers such as the CDC that you have specific vaccinations before you move to the country. In this article we will look at the recommended vaccines, where you can get them if you are in China, and if health insurance will cover them.
Vaccines suggested and required for China
The good news around vaccinations for China is that at this time, there is only one required vaccination that you must, by law, have before moving or even visiting China and that is Yellow Fever. If you currently live in a country where Yellow Fever is present - it is not present in China - you will need to be vaccinated for it before you enter China. In fact, immigration will likely ask to see proof of your inoculation.
If you are unsure whether you should get vaccinated for Yellow Fever, check out the CDC's website. There is a list of countries where Yellow Fever is present - mainly Africa and South America -, so if you are currently living in one of them you will need to go to your doctor and get vaccinated.
When it comes to moving to China, there are actually a number of vaccines experts including the CDC, who recommend you and anyone moving with you get vaccinated first - NOTE: While the CDC recommends vaccines for travel, they are also a good base for people who will be moving there permanently. These include:
Routine vaccinations such as MMR (Mumps, Measles, Rubella), DTP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis), Polio, Chicken Pox, etc.
Hepatitis A and B
There are a few more vaccines that you may want to consider such as Japanese Encephalitis and Rabies if you are in certain situations e.g., will be in rural China or handling animals. Your best bet is to go to your local travel clinic or even physician and follow their recommendation. This is important because China is such a large country with a varied climate and each region can have different recommendations.
Beyond that, you are probably going to want to travel around the region once you have established yourself in China. It would beneficial to talk to your doctor about what vaccines are recommended for the region. For example, if you plan on visiting rural areas of South East Asia (Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, etc.) you may want to consider precautions for Malaria for when you travel to rural parts in these countries.
Finally, the one vaccine you may want to consider is the flu vaccine. Ask any expat who has moved to a new city or location and many will tell you that they got sick within a few months of moving. A flu shot, especially one developed for China, can be helpful. The thing is, this shot may be different from those in your home country so you may want to wait until you get to China to get this. Flu shots also change annually as strains develop, and a yearly costs are something you need to be aware of.
Where do I get vaccines in China?
If you moved to China and didn't get any vaccines it's not the end of the world, but you could be at risk of picking up diseases like Hepatitis A/B and typhoid, especially if you eat food off the street or are not overly careful with what you drink. Luckily, the major international hospitals should all carry the vaccines or even have a travel clinic that you can visit. Talk to either a GP first or go to the travel clinic if there is one in the hospital. They will be able to direct you and explain what is needed.
As with most things in China however, it would be a good idea to do some research ahead of time. Websites like the CDC and the WHO both provide a wealth of information around this. One thing to pay attention to is that some immunizations do require more than one shot so you may need to go back in the near future.
Will my health insurance cover this?
Vaccinations can be quite expensive, especially if you get one that is not commonly given in your country. Combine this with the fact that foreign produced and imported vaccines in China can be quite expensive, and you may begin to wonder whether these vaccines will be covered by your health insurance.
There is actually no set answer for this as many international plans will cover some vaccinations, while others will cover all, and others still won't cover any. Look over your policy documents to see whether immunizations will be covered and you can also talk with the insurance experts at Pacific Prime China. They can help you find a plan that will cover these, and answer your travel or moving questions related to insurance. Contact them today.