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When contemplating travelling further afield one of the first things that often comes to mind (or maybe your parent’s minds) is travel vaccinations and insurance. I realised it was important to be aware of how long it can take to sort, and how expensive it is. Here are some basics on all things travel vaccines and medical preparations for backpacking, which will hopefully answer that burning question: What vaccinations do I need for Southeast Asia?
This is focused on vaccinations I had for travelling Southeast Asia as this is where I went for my long backpacking trip, and is the only destination I’ve been to outside of Europe. Nevertheless the medical precautions and prepartions would be similar for another backpacking trip, and the recommended websites are great for any travel destinations.
- 1 GET AN APPOINTMENT WITH THE TRAVEL CLINIC
- 2 TRAVEL VACCINATIONS FOR SOUTHEAST ASIA
- 3 MALARAIA AREAS IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
- 4 INSURANCE FOR TRAVELLING SOUTHEAST ASIA
- 5 Found this information on Travel Vaccinations for Southeast Asia useful?
GET AN APPOINTMENT WITH THE TRAVEL CLINIC
In order to get the best information on travel vaccines go to your GP and make an appointment with the travel clinic. When you go for the appointment try and have details of your previous immunisations. Make sure you do this in plenty of time before you go off backpacking Southeast Asia. A lot of the immunisations for travel have to be done in courses and therefore you need to start having them at least 6 weeks before you go away.
*Please note this was written before the Covid-19 pandemic. Regulations regarding appointments at GP surgery’s are definitely different at the moment.*
TRAVEL VACCINATIONS FOR SOUTHEAST ASIA
Disclaimer: I am 100% no expert at all on any of this and you should book an appointment at the travel clinic at your local GP surgery. They will tell you about and advise you on what vaccinations and medication you could, should and need to get.
Cost of travel in Southeast Asia is relatively cheap, but when saving and budgeting for your trip bear in mind that vaccines for travellers are very expensive!
There are no compulsory vaccinations for Southeast Asia, however there are many that are recommended / advised. As well as travel vaccinations, make sure you have all your routine vaccines up to date (i.e. MMR, Polio etc.) A great website to give you an overview of what vaccinations you may need for the countries you’re going to, and what the potential malaria risks are is Travel Health Pro.
The countries I visited in Southeast Asia were Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Indonesia so all the medical precautions I took were relevant to those particular countries.
Some NHS travel vaccinations are free, so you can get them done at your local GP surgery. However other travel vaccines you will have to pay for. You can get them done at your GP surgery, or at a private clinic. The prices vary between places. I found it easy to get all the paid vaccinations done at Boots. I had a really good experience with them so would definitely recommend!
I was advised to get a lot of the vaccinations before I was travelling Southeast Asia for a long period of time. The advice might be different if you were only spending 2 or 3 weeks in Southeast Asia.
I had the following travel vaccinations for Southeast Asia:
- Hepatitis A – free on the NHS, get this from your doctors surgery, you will need one injection.
- Typhoid – free on the NHS, get this from your doctors surgery, you will need one injection.
- Hepatitis B – £40 / shot from the doctors, £48 / shot from Boots, you will need three injections. If you get a booster after 12 months this vaccine is said to last for your lifetime.
- Rabies – £56 / shot at the doctors, £60 / shot from Boots, you will need three injections. If you get your three shots done in time the vaccine lasts 10 years, otherwise you will need a fourth booster injection. **NOTE: This doesn’t prevent you from getting rabies but it does give you more time to get to the hospital to get the reverse injection.**
- Japanese Encephalitis – £89 / shot from the doctors, £98 / shot from Boots, you will need two injections. Consider JE if you are planning on going to more rural areas and spending time in rice and paddy fields. My adventures in Southeast Asia took me to a lot of rural areas, like Mai Chau pictured below, so it was beneficial that I got the JE jab.
The cholera vaccine was also available, although I chose not to have this. This was is an oral solution which you have to take twice. Cholera can be contracted from dirty water and consuming unpasteurised dairy products.
MALARAIA AREAS IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
Malaria tablets are recommended in areas with a high risk of malaria (the red zones on any malaria map you look at). The only high risk areas in Southeast Asia are southern Laos and western Papua in Indonesia. In the lower risk zones you should take precautions such as covering up, using a mosquito net and using max protection mosquito spray.
Costs for antimalarials vary depending on where you get them from, but they are charged by the table. I had Malarone tablets which had to be taken 2 days before entering the zone, every day whilst there and 7 days after leaving the zone. Malaria tablets can cause side effects, but I didn’t experience any.
INSURANCE FOR TRAVELLING SOUTHEAST ASIA
It is essential that you get travel insurance. You have no idea what might happen, so you need to be prepared. If you become ill or injured and don’t have any insurance, you will find yourself with hefty medical bills! Make sure you have adventure / backpacker travel cover so that you are covered fora. lot of the sporting / more extreme activities that you will likely take part in whilst backpacking Southeast Asia.
I got LV premier travel insurance because this came with adventure cover. For 4 months of cover it cost me £184. Make sure you mention any existing medical conditions and also state medication you’ve previously been on. Even if you don;’t think it’s worth mentioning, just do it to be on the safe side!
Don’t forget – Travel Health Pro is your go to website!