Traveling to Brazil? Here Are the Vaccines You Will Need

Are you looking forward to the exotic beaches of Rio De Janeiro? Are you excited about a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in the Amazon Rain Forest? To protect yourself while traveling in Brazil, there are some vaccinations you should consider getting before leaving.

You are not required to receive any vaccinations before traveling to Brazil. However, the CDC recommends getting vaccines for Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid Fever, and COVID-19. In addition, you should be up to date on all routine vaccinations.

Are you concerned that you aren’t vaccinated or worried that you won’t have enough time to get all your health needs? Do not worry! This guide will give you all of the information you need to ensure that you have vaccinations to keep you safe while traveling to Brazil.

Can I Travel to Brazil Without the Yellow Fever Vaccine?

While you are allowed to travel to Brazil without a yellow fever vaccine, it is highly recommended by the CDC that you get vaccinated if you are traveling to most parts of Brazil. The only areas where you will not need a yellow fever vaccine are the cities of Fortaleza and Recife. 

What is Yellow Fever?

Yellow fever is a disease spread via mosquitoes in certain parts of South America and Africa. Mild cases include fever, chills, and body aches. More severe cases include bleeding, shock, organ failure, and death.

If you’re thinking about traveling to the city of wonders, take a look at this post we made about mosquitoes in Rio de Janeiro!

The mosquito is the main carrier of the yellow fever, so aside from the vaccine, don’t forget to get some bug spray depending on where you’re traveling to! – Credit: Konstantin Nechaev

How Long Before Travelling Do I Need the Yellow Fever Vaccine?

It is recommended that you receive the yellow fever vaccine at least ten days before travel. This allows time for the vaccine to work. Most people only need to get one yellow fever vaccine in their lifetime, but it is recommended to receive a booster shot every ten years in some instances. You should consult with your primary care physician to understand the best plan before traveling. 

Are There Risks to Getting the Yellow Fever Vaccine?

The yellow fever vaccine has severe or fatal side effects in rare cases. Individuals with compromised immune systems or over the age of 60 are most at risk. 

In addition, pregnant women should consult with their physician before receiving the vaccine. 

How Do I Prevent Myself from Getting Yellow Fever?

If you do not plan on getting the vaccine or are worried about getting the disease despite the vaccine, there are a few steps that you can take to avoid getting yellow fever. Since mosquitoes spread the disease, your best protection is avoiding bug bites. Protecting yourself from bug bites includes:

  • Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants
  • Using insect repellant
  • Sleeping under a bug net
  • Treating your clothes with permethrin

Taking these measures is extremely important if you plan to travel to the Amazon rainforest. 

Can I Travel to Brazil without the Hepatitis A Vaccine?

The CDC strongly recommends that all travelers over the age of 1 receive the Hepatitis A vaccine before traveling to Brazil. 

What is Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is a virus that causes liver disease. It can lead to fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea, fatigue, and jaundice. In mild cases, most people recover in a few weeks and have no lasting impacts. However, the virus can lead to kidney failure and even death in severe cases.

How Long Before Travelling Do I Need the Hepatitis A Vaccine?

The Hepatitis A vaccine is given in two doses six months apart. You should receive your second dose at least ten days before traveling to Brazil. Therefore, you should receive your first dose at least six months and ten days before travel.

It is generally recommended that you receive a booster shot every ten years.

Are There Any Risks to Receiving the Hepatitis A Vaccine?

Some individuals will experience very mild side effects like:

  • Mild rash
  • Soreness near the injection site
  • Mild headache

In rare cases, people are allergic to specific components of the vaccine. For example, those who have an allergy to Neomyclin or Yeast should not receive the vaccine. 

If you are under the age of 1 or allergic to the vaccine, you can ask your doctor about receiving a dose of immune globin, which will protect Hepatitis A for up to 2 months. 

How Do I Prevent Myself from Getting Hepatitis A?

Hepatitis A is found in the stool and blood of individuals. It can therefore be spread through food, water, or close contact. The best protection against Hepatitis A is getting vaccinated. For those who are unvaccinated, general health practices like washing your hands frequently and drinking bottled water are your best defense.

Can I Travel to Brazil Without a Hepatitis B Vaccine?

The CDC strongly recommends that travelers of all ages visiting Brazil receive the Hepatitis B vaccination.

What is Hepatitis B?

Hepatitis B has very similar health impacts to Hepatitis A. The main difference is that Hepatitis B spreads through blood and bodily fluids, while Hepatitis B spreads through food and water. 

How Long Before Travelling Should I Get the Hepatitis B Vaccine?

It takes six months to become wholly vaccinated against Hepatitis B. The second shot is typically given one month after the first shot. The third dose is given six months following the first shot. 

If you cannot start the vaccination process six months before traveling to Brazil, accelerated vaccination schedules are available. You should consult with your doctor before beginning an accelerated program. 

Are There Any Risks to Receiving the Hepatitis B Vaccine?

The Hepatitis B vaccine has some standard, mild side effects, including:

  • Low fever
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Soreness near the injection site

As with the Hepatitis A vaccine, if you are allergic to Neomycin or Yeast, you should not receive the vaccine.

How Do I Prevent Myself from Getting Hepatitis B?

As with Hepatitis A, the best protection against Hepatitis B is getting vaccinated. The vaccine is over 90% effective at preventing the disease.

Since it takes a bit of time (6 months) for the vaccine to become fully active, plan ahead and go get your shot before going to Brazil! – Credit: Frui

To further avoid risk, you should practice the following precautions:

  • Avoid intercourse with an infected individual.
  • Don’t touch open sores or wounds of an infected person.
  • Avoid sharing personal items like razors, toothbrushes, or other items you may allow to enter your body with someone infected.
  • Do not share needles, syringes, or other medical instruments with an infected individual.

As in all cases, if you feel sick or suspect you may have been infected, you should contact a health care professional. Make sure to mention that you traveled to Brazil when doing so. 

Can I Travel to Brazil Without a Typhoid Fever Vaccine?

The Typhoid Vaccine is recommended for most individuals who are traveling to Brazil. In addition, anyone planning on visiting family and friends or traveling to rural areas of the country should strongly consider getting vaccinated. 

What is Typhoid Fever?

Typhoid Fever is a bacterial disease that results in an extremely high fever (often 103°F to 104°F) and all the symptoms associated with said fever. In addition, some people will develop a rash, and internal bleeding can occur on rare occasions.

How Long Before Travelling Should I Get the Typhoid Fever Vaccine?

It would be best to get your typhoid vaccine at least two weeks before traveling to Brazil. However, the vaccine’s effectiveness diminishes over time, so you should receive a booster shot every two years if you plan on going back to Brazil. 

Are There Any Risks to Receiving the Typhoid Fever Vaccine?

Most individuals who receive the Typhoid Fever vaccine will only experience soreness or redness near the injection site. However, some people may have an allergic reaction to the vaccine in scarce instances. 

How Do I Prevent Myself from Getting Typhoid Fever?

Typhoid Fever typically spreads through food and beverages that people have touched when not washing their hands after using the restroom. Unfortunately, the Typhoid vaccine is only 50% to 80% effective at preventing the disease and even less effective over time. Therefore, even if you are vaccinated, it is vital to take the following precautions:

  • Only eat hot, cooked foods that have not been sitting out for an extended period.
  • Only drink factory-sealed beverages. This includes water.
  • Do not drink beverages with ice.
  • Avoid raw fruits and vegetables.
  • Brush your teeth with bottled water.
  • Only drink pasteurized milk.

Following these practices will also help prevent you from getting other foodborne illnesses.

Can I Travel to Brazil Without a Rabies Vaccination?

The CDC recommends a rabies vaccination for travelers going to Brazil to perform specific activities or specific places. More specifically, if you intend to spend a lot of time in the wilderness, work with animals, or go to rural towns, you should consider getting a rabies vaccination. 

What is Rabies?

Rabies is a deadly virus spread through the scratch or bite of an infected animal. The virus impacts the central nervous system and almost always leads to death when untreated.

Rabies is most commonly found in wild animals like:

  • Foxes
  • Skunks
  • Raccoons
  • Bats

In Brazil, there is a large population of wild dogs infected with rabies. Therefore, it is essential to be vigilant even when traveling in Brazilian cities. 

How Long Before Travelling Should I Get the Rabies Vaccine?

The rabies vaccine is given in three doses. The second dose is given within seven days of the first injection. The third shot is given 21 to 28 days after the second injection. Therefore, you should start the vaccination process at least 28 days before leaving for Brazil. 

Unlike many vaccines, the rabies vaccine can actually be given post-exposure. Therefore, if a wild animal has bitten you, you should seek treatment immediately. 

The post-exposure vaccination schedule is given in four doses. The second dose is given three days after the initial shot. The third is offered seven days after the third shot, and the fourth is given 14 days after that.

Are There Any Risks to the Rabies Vaccine?

The following symptoms can be expected when receiving a rabies vaccine:

  • Soreness or swelling
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Hives 

The vaccine can negatively impact the central nervous system is extremely rare instances. However, the risks associated with the vaccine far outweigh the alternative, especially if you’ve been exposed.

How Do I Prevent Myself from Getting Rabies?

The best way to avoid getting rabies is to avoid interacting with animals. Unfortunately, while almost all house pets in the United States are vaccinated, this is not the case in Brazil. 

If you plan to visit the Amazon Rain Forest or spend a lot of time in the wild, you should avoid aggravating or interacting with wild animals. If you’re traveling intending to interact with wildlife, wear the appropriate protective clothing. 

Even though it’s very tempting to try to touch wild animals that look cute, there’s always the risk of them biting you! So don’t forget to get your rabbies shot especially if you’re planning on visiting wild areas such as the Amazon Forest and the Pantanal! – Credit: Bill Roque

If you get bit by an animal you suspect may have rabies, you will need to travel back to the United States immediately. The rabies vaccine is not widely available in Brazil, and rapid treatment is essential to prevent harm from the disease.

Can I Travel to Brazil Without a Covid-19 Vaccination?

Brazil does not require travelers to be vaccinated for COVID-19 to enter the country. However, the CDC strongly recommends that all travelers be vaccinated before Brazil. In addition, be prepared to get tested for COVID-19 several times during and after travel, regardless of vaccination status. 

What Other Vaccinations Should I Consider Before Travelling to Brazil?

While the above vaccinations are specific to visiting Brazil and travel in general, the CDC also recommends that you are up to date on all routine vaccinations. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Measles
  • TDAP
  • Chickenpox
  • Shingles
  • Pneumonia
  • Influenza
  • Meningitis
  • Polio

The state of global health guidelines and practices is everchanging as more information is made available. Therefore, it is essential to consult the CDC guidelines for travel to Brazil before traveling for any changes or updates.

While you’re here, I think we might interest you with these:

Flushing Toilet Paper in Brazil: Why Is This A Taboo? – How you dispose of toilet paper is handled differently depending on where you go in the world. Do Brazilians actually flush the toilet paper? Click and find out!

A Guide For Tipping In Brazil – If you’re traveling to a new culture, even the most minor things can be substantially different, like tipping! Take a look to find out how Brazilians handle tabs and tipping!

Brazilian Wedding: Should I Wear Formal Attire? – Invited to a Brazilian wedding? Here’s everything you need to know about what attire you should wear!

Cover Photo: a vaccine needle in front of the Brazilian flag – Credit: ID 214839424 © Claudio Valdes |

Bruno Reguffe

What's up, everyone! I'm Bruno, and I'm a nutritionist living in Rio de Janeiro. I've been a longtime friend of Ana's, and I'm excited to help her expand on all things Brazilian with y'all, as well as sharing some of our culture and a few personal experiences while living in the country!

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