Required & Recommended Vaccinations
The only vaccine required by international regulations is yellow fever. Proof of vaccination will only be required if you have visited a country in the yellow-fever zone within the six days prior to entering Southeast Asia.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the following vaccinations for travelers to Southeast Asia:
Adult diphtheria and tetanus Single booster recommended if none has been given in the previous 10 years. Side effects include a sore arm and fever.
Hepatitis A Provides almost 100% protection for up to a year; a booster after 12 months provides at least another 20 years’ protection. Mild side effects such as headache and a sore arm occur in 5% to 10% of people.
Hepatitis B Now considered routine for most travelers. Given as three shots over six months. A rapid schedule is also available, as is a combined vaccination with hepatitis A. Side effects are mild and uncommon, usually headache and a sore arm. Lifetime protection occurs in 95% of people.
Measles, mumps and rubella Two doses of MMR required unless you have had the diseases. Occasionally a rash and flu-like illness can develop a week after receiving the vaccine. Many young adults require a booster.
Polio Only one booster is required as an adult for lifetime protection.
Typhoid Recommended unless your trip is less than a week. The vaccine offers around 70% protection, lasts for two to three years and comes as a single shot. Tablets are also available; however, the injection is usually recommended as it has fewer side effects. A sore arm and fever may occur.
Varicella If you haven’t had chickenpox, discuss this vaccination with your doctor.
These are recommended only for long-term travelers (more than one month):
Japanese B Encephalitis Three injections in all. Booster recommended after two years. A sore arm and headache are the most common side effects.
Meningitis Single injection. There are two types of vaccination: the quadrivalent vaccine gives two to three years’ protection; meningitis group C vaccine gives around 10 years’ protection. Recommended for long-term travelers aged under 25.
Rabies Three injections in all. A booster after one year will then provide 10 years’ protection. Side effects are rare – occasionally a headache and sore arm.
Tuberculosis A complex issue. Adult long-term travelers are usually recommended to have a TB skin test before and after travel, rather than vaccination. Only one vaccine is given in a lifetime.