What vaccinations do you need for South East Asia?

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If there is one hidden cost that most people forget about before they travel, it is the price of vaccinations. If you live in the UK these will NOT be on the NHS and you will have to pay as they are not a required for you to have them. Or in simpler terms; You have chosen to go on this trip where you will need these specific vaccinations and it is not an illness that the NHS need to treat. Apart from Tetnus, none of the other vaccinations in this list are required and therefore they are optional vaccinations. AND BOY DOES IT START TO ADD UP. Due to the spacing of some of these vaccinations you should start to think about which vaccinations you want at least two months before you go…

*DISCLAIMER* These are the vaccinations recommended to us by our nurse. They could change person to person based on your past health history or your itinerary, so always check with a medical professional to see which vaccinations you will need.


Hepatitis A and B

Hepatitis A and B can be given either separately or as a joint vaccine but both are important to have before going to South East Asia due to the countries being areas of poor sanitation. These vaccinations will give you long lasting protection. Ours were a joint vaccination that were given in a set of 2 separate injections.

Hepatitis A is a viral infection transmitted through contaminated food and water or by direct contact with a person who already has Hepatitis A. The disease becomes more serious with age, meaning that recovery from this could take months. So take care with personal food and water hygiene.

Hepatitis B is also a viral infection and is transmitted by exposure to infected blood or fluids. Sometimes this is through contaminated equipment during medical procedures, tattooing to body piercings or the sharing of needles. These can be given individually, or like us they can be given as a mixed one. Long lasting protection from these vaccines.


Typhoid is a bacterial infection which is transmitted through contaminated food and water. This vaccination is recommended for long-term travellers and people who will be visiting areas of poor sanitation. Typhoid is conveniently just one injection that will need a top up every 3 years.


In the UK most people have the Tetnus vaccination when they are young, so this one in particular might not be necessary to have again unless you are travelling to a country where medical facilities are completely limited (if so a booster dose is recommended). For our trip we decided not to have the booster.


This is probably one of the best known vaccinations to have before a trip to South East Asia because of the wild monkeys, bats and dogs that have bitten travellers in the past. Rabies is a viral infection that is usually transmitted following contact with the saliva of an infected animal. This is most common in dogs, monkeys and bats and are mostly transmitted through a bite or a lick to an open wound. Symptoms can take time to develop, but when they do, the condition is almost always fatal. If you do get bitten you houkd throughly clean the wound and seek local medical attention. Rabies is a set of three jabs that need to be spaced out, so keep that in mind when deciding when to have your vaccinations.

Japanese Encephalitis

Japanese Encephalitis is a horrible viral infection that can be transmitted to humans from animals by mosquitoes which typically breed in rice fields, swamps and marshes. If you are travelling for a month or longer you are more risk of contracting this disease, especially if you are visiting rice fields. If you are doing a short trip, that focuses on cities you will be at low risk. In South East Asia transmission of this disease is highest during the wet season (between May and October). This vaccination is two needles that need to be spaced out, probably due to some of the side effects you can get from it. This vaccination in particular really threw us, making us tired and Alice even felt flu like symptoms.

Yellow Fever

We haven’t had this vaccination but our nurse said she has heard that some boarders can turn you away for not having it. The only problem is that they have to be given in groups of 10 as it is so expensive. This means that not all doctors surgeries will offer the Yellow Fever vaccination. There will be special Yellow Fever centres where you can go to get this done. Keep in mind that they will organise it so that you are one of 10 and so you may have to work around their days rather than setting your own dates.

While there is no risk of yellow fever in South East Asia a vaccination certificate may be required of you are arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever.


Most travellers are at low risk from this disease but should take care with personal food and water hygiene as it is a bacterial infection transmitted by contaminated food and water. If sever enough it could cause a mild infection or diarrhoea. To protect yourself from Cholera you will need to take this as an oral drink.


As most of you will know, Malaria is transmitted by mosquitos (predominantly between dusk and dawn). It is a nasty disease which requires a prompt diagnosis and treatment as people with Malaria deteriorate quickly. Symptom include a high temperature, feeling shivery having a headache or feeling nauseous, vomiting and aching muscles. Symptoms could appear anything from 8 days after infection and up to a year after.

While mosquito spray can prevent malaria, it is better to be safe than sorry and also take the tablets. These can get pricey though, like extremely pricey. In some instances they are about £1/£2 per tablet – just for reference.

For more information visit Travel Health Pro or the NHS’ Fit For Travel (which has a particular handy Malaria Map).

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