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Best Travel Vaccines for Southeast Asia

TRAVEL VACCINES FOR SOUTHEAST ASIA

Travelers do not like the idea of getting the required vaccinations for travel before embarking on their trip due to reasons such as the pain from the shots (as several shots may be required) and also the cost of getting them.

This, however, does not make this process less important as there are various required vaccinations by country and the vaccines needed for Southeast Asia include: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, cholera, yellow fever, typhoid, polio, rabies, and Japanese encephalitis.

There are other regular vaccinations: influenza, chickenpox, tetanus, pneumonia, meningitis, measles, shingles, mumps, and rubella (MMR), diphtheria, and pertussis (Tdap).

These vaccinations should be ideally done at least a month before you go on your trip to give the vaccines enough time to work in your body, hence when planning your trip, this should be one of the first things for you to sort out.

See also: Southeast Asia Packing List – What to Pack for Backpacking

Essential Vaccines for Southeast Asia

These are vaccines needed to travel to Southeast Asia.

Hepatitis A

hepatitis a
Source: gloveclinic.com

This is a highly infectious disease that affects over 400,000 people in Southeast Asia. The virus is prevalent in areas with low hygiene and sanitation levels as it is easily transmitted through contaminated food or water.

This vaccine is highly recommended by CDC Indonesia travel. The vaccine is given as a single injection, with or without a booster (6-12 months) after the injection, which will then be active for at least 20 years.

It is recommended for the Hepatitis A vaccine to be made 2 weeks prior to your holiday.

Hepatitis B

hepatitis b travel vaccine
Source: hepb.org

Hepatitis B is a viral infection that affects the human liver of over 250 million people around the world.

This infection is usually transmitted through bodily fluids, unprotected sex, from mother to her baby, using an undisinfected needle, or exposure to infected blood.

Travelers who make it a routine to get new tattoos or piercings while abroad, get new sexual partners, or happen to get stitched in local hospitals are at a high risk of getting the virus.

The Hepatitis B vaccine is given thrice over six months and is so effective that all you have to do to get inoculated for life is to just get vaccinated once.  

The Hepatitis B vaccine should be used ideally 6 months before you embark on your trip. You can however shorten the 6 months to 3 weeks if you do not have that much time to spare before your trip.

Science has made it possible to get a combined vaccine (known as Twinrix) for both Hepatitis A & B. Twinrix is however given as a series of 2 shots, the second shot (booster shot) will be given between 1-6 months of getting the first shot.

See also: The Absolute 10 BEST Places to Visit in Southeast Asia

Typhoid

Typhoid vaccine
Source: medicalxpress.com

Typhoid is a serious bacterial infection that causes vomiting, diarrhea, high fever, and also death and is caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi.

Typhoid is contracted through contaminated food and water and found in areas with low levels of hygiene and sanitation.

Typhoid can be fatal if left untreated and about 20million people are diagnosed with typhoid every year. Antibiotics are however very effective in treating typhoid.

Travelers can get vaccinated by either:

  • A single injection, after which you should get booster shots every 3 years if you frequent these areas with a high risk of infection.
  • Orally taken as capsules. Tablets should be taken every other day while the last tablet should be taken a week before embarking on the trip.

Typhoid vaccination should be gotten at least a month before the trip. In the case where you do not have up to a month, you should still get vaccinated regardless. 

Tetanus

tetanus
Source: scientificanimations.com

Tetanus is caused by the bacterium Clostridium tetani found in saliva, dust, animal poo, and soil. This disease is associated with the neck and muscle spasms getting stiff.

See also: Best Southeast Asia Vacations for Single Guys to Get Laid

Diphtheria

Diphtheria
Source: rekordeast.co.za

Diphtheria infects the mucous membranes of the throat and nose and is easily spread by sneezing, touching a used tissue, or sharing cups hence making it very contagious.

Travellers should get these shots before going to Thailand.

Polio

Polio vaccine travel vaccine
Source:
timesnownews.com

Polio, also called Poliomyelitis, is a viral disease that majorly affects children and it is spread through bodily fluids and causes its victims to be paralyzed.

There is combined tetanus, diphtheria, and polio vaccine which is usually administered to children in schools. For those who had this vaccine a long time ago, say 10years, it is important to get a booster shot. 

You should get vaccinated at least two weeks before you embark on your trip.

MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)

MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)
Source: parenting.firstcry.com

Children under the age of 1 all over the world are given this vaccine. Another shot is given at age 4-5 right before the child starts school and these early vaccinations are spontaneous enough to protect you for over 20 years. 

It is, however, important to confirm if you have been administered these vaccines before you embark on any trip.

See also: 10 Best Party Islands in Southeast Asia to Visit this Year

These vaccinations are not necessary although they are recommended.

Rabies

rabies vaccine
Source: wfmj.com

Rabies is found in animals and can be transmitted to humans through bites or when an infected animal licks an exposed cut on humans. Rabies causes seizures, paralysis, hallucinations, and a full attack on the nervous system that could lead to death.

For those who would not get these vaccines due to their high cost, you can just make sure to do away from any animal especially dogs as they do not show signs of being infected.

See also: 7 Tips for Finding Cheap Flights to Asia

Japanese Encephalitis

Japanese Encephalitis vaccine
Source: empr.com

This disease is found in birds and pigs and spread through mosquitoes, and unlike what the name would make you believe, it is not only found in Japan.

Once infected, the signs are vomiting, fever, coma, and in some cases death. The vaccine is given in two doses after which the second shot is given after 28 days.

Medical officers advise that travelers who are going to rural areas must get vaccinated for this disease.

Cholera

Cholera vaccine
Source: healtheuropa.eu

This vaccination is usually recommended for travelers going as volunteers or aid workers to remote areas with unclean water or food cooked with such water.

The cholera vaccine is given as a drink in two doses after which the second dose is taken 6weeks after the first.


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Catalin Geangos
Catalin Geangos is the founder and previous owner of TravelTrained. He has been to more than 35 countries and lived in a few more before. He was a digital nomad travelling and backpacking extensively in Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam and others parts of South East Asia from 2020 to 2023. He wrote about many articles about his first hand backpacking and partying experiences in these countries. He stayed in many hostels and hotels, met many other backpackers, travelers and locals whom he partied and shared his story with. His articles have inspired travelers, mostly single backpackers, around to world to take the leap to explore South East Asian countries from grassroots and not just the tourist attractions but also the real and happening life on the streets after the sun sets down! He now writes about outdoor gear and hiking.