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Thursday, December 16, 2010

What Vaccines Do I Need for Southeast Asia? Immunizations for Southeast Asia

There are some immunizations you do not routinely receive that are highly recommended for Southeast Asia. Included among them is Hepititus B, a vaccination process that requires three shots over a six month period. Therefore, planning ahead is critical. Also consider if you will need to be taking malaria medicine, and what kind. Some medicines require you begin taking them several weeks before going into at-risk areas. For more on malaria prevention, read our earlier article on the topic, "Get Your Malaria Medicine Overseas (And Save Money)."

Vaccines you will want to have an consider are (from the CDC):
  • Routine Vaccinations: Recommended if you are not up-to-date with routine shots such as, measles/mumps/rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT) vaccine, tetanus alone, poliovirus vaccine, etc.
  • Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG): Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in countries with an intermediate or high level of hepatitis A virus infections where exposure might occur through food or water. Cases of travel-related hepatitis A can also occur in travelers to developing countries with "standard" tourist itineraries, accommodations, and food consumption behaviors.  We suggest all Southeast Asian travelers are vaccinated for Hep A.
  • Hepatitis B: Recommended for all unvaccinated persons traveling to or working in countries with intermediate to high levels of endemic HBV transmission (see map), especially those who might be exposed to blood or body fluids, have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment (e.g., for an accident).  We highly suggest all Southeast Asian travelers are vaccinated for Hep B.
  • Typhoid: Recommended for all unvaccinated people traveling to or working in Southeast Asia, especially if visiting smaller cities, villages, or rural areas and staying with friends or relatives where exposure might occur through food or water.
  • Rabies: Recommended for travelers spending a lot of time outdoors, especially in rural areas, involved in activities such as bicycling, camping, or hiking. Also recommended for travelers with significant occupational risks (such as veterinarians), for long-term travelers and expatriates living in areas with a significant risk of exposure, and for travelers involved in any activities that might bring them into direct contact with bats, carnivores, and other mammals. Children are considered at higher risk because they tend to play with animals, may receive more severe bites, or may not report bites.  Currently, there is a rabies epidemic in Bali.
  • Japanese encephalitis: Recommended if you plan to visit rural farming areas and under special circumstances, such as a known outbreak of Japanese encephalitis, see country-specific information for details on outbreaks.
Taking some simple precautions and consulting with a travel physician can be great preventives to potentially life-threatening infections in Southeast Asia.  Before making your necessary medical arrangements for your stay in Southeast Asia, we highly recommend you see the latest Southeast Asia Health Alerts--they can help you plan your trip better to ensure you are safe, healthy, and don't bring back a bug as a result of your Southeast Asian adventure.


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