A woman exploring many different places in Asia, from a temple to a rural area to a city street

Recommended Vaccinations for Traveling to Asia and the Pacific

Island jungles, ancient temples, a culture perhaps as vastly different from our own American upbringing as can be found on this planet–these are but a few of the reasons thousands of San Francisco travelers decide to hop on a plane and head to Asia every year.

For the more adventurous, this may mean a solo trip into the rainforest. A married couple, still lovestruck after 30 years, may dream of revisiting their honeymoon or making new memories on some little beachside bed and breakfast. A young group of friends dreaming of fast-paced neon and late-night sake set their sights on the big city.

Whatever your particular idea of a dream vacation in Asia, try and imagine it with a nice case of the measles. Sort of changes the concept, no?

This is why it’s important–and at times mandatory–to make certain you get the recommended shots for the countries you plan to visit.

Luckily, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) maintains an excellent resource for determining which vaccines you’ll need based on your travel itinerary. It does a great job at explaining, in brief, what vaccinations you may need should you, say, be headed to Thailand on a backpacking trip.

One could, theoretically, take that information, find the closest travel vaccination clinic, and be on their way.

However, this list changes often and outbreaks happen, sometimes without warning. Take the Philippines for example. The CDC currently warns travelers planning to visit this archipelago nation that there is in fact currently an outbreak of measles. Before getting your travel vaccinations, be sure to find a reputable travel vaccination clinic, one with a doctor experienced in world travel and happy to provide you with all of the information that’s most pertinent to your specific situation.

Even the CDC acknowledges that not everyone traveling to any individual country needs each and every vaccine. All travelers to the most popular destinations in Asia are currently required to get that measles vaccination, but while most travelers headed to Indonesia and some travelers destined for China should get the polio vaccine, it’s not necessary in many other Asian countries.

Most travelers? Some travelers? What exactly does that mean?

tourists on a boat riding through the philippines

As explained on their website, you might require a polio vaccine if you’re heading to China’s Xinjiang province and your trip involves the type of work that will put you in a hospital or refugee camp. On the other hand, if you’re visiting Indonesia, as you attempt to leave the country on your way home, they very well may require you to provide proof that you’re currently vaccinated against polio.

While dealing with which vaccines you may need, the paperwork to get in and out of countries and trying to plan every aspect of your vacation or business trip ahead of time may put a damper on what would otherwise be considered a grand adventure, it’s a necessary part of world travel. Why not visit a doctor who will take the time to explain these things and make sure you’re all set for your trip?

Here at Traveler Medical Group, Dr. Jim Savage is exactly that doctor. Your relationship doesn’t need to end after you walk out of the office. Plenty of our patients relish Dr. Savage precisely for his availability to help them, over the phone, during their trip.

Common Vaccines Required in the Most Popular Asian Travel Destinations

highly landscaped mountain resembles stairrs

Currently, the CDC recommends getting vaccinated for measles in all of the countries we discuss below.

In the vast majority of countries we reference here, getting vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B is recommended for most travelers because you can be exposed to the disease through contaminated water or food. The typhoid vaccine is recommended in all of them–except for Japan–for most travelers since typhoid can also be acquired via food or water, particularly if you stay with friends or relatives who live in more rural areas or smaller population centers. Are you a foodie? This further increases the chances that your next “authentic” meal will leave you with more than just the check.

Ever heard of Japanese Encephalitis? Unfortunately, despite what the name may suggest, it’s not limited to Japan. If you plan to spend a month or more in Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, China, Indonesia…the list goes on…you’ll likely need to be vaccinated against this brain infection that may have no effect on you whatsoever, or may leave you with a headache, vomiting, fever or even seizures. Spending your time outdoors can increase your risk, even if your trip is shorter.

CDC Map of Japanese Encephalitis as of 6/2019. Map may be out of date, just shown as a reference.
CDC Map of Japanese Encephalitis as of 6/2019. Map may be out of date, just shown as a reference.

What does the CDC recommend?

Your doctor can help you decide if this vaccine is right for you based on your travel plans.

— The Centers for Disease Control

Being vaccinated against malaria is recommended for most travelers in Indonesia and Timor-Leste but only for some travelers in nearby countries based on their plans. For example, if you’re planning a trip to India, and will stay above 6,600′ in elevation during your entire trip, you may not be at risk at all, while a visit to Mumbai or Delhi puts you at a greater risk. If, however, your travels are taking you to Vietnam, you’ll be safest in the cities and at greater risk in rural areas.

CDC Map of Malaria Endemic Countries. For reference only, map may be out of date.
CDC Map of Malaria Endemic Countries. For reference only, map may be out of date.

The advice given for avoiding malaria in Thailand? Don’t get bitten by mosquitos.

You can see why, whether planning a trip to one of the previously visited destinations, Laos, Brunei, Singapore or anywhere else in Asia (or the world for that matter), the best way to ensure your trip will remain on track is to consult a knowledgable doctor who cares.

Traveler Medical Group in downtown San Francisco is here to help you do just that!

Contact us to get your personalized travel vaccination appointment today!

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