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Travel Immunizations - What you Really Need in Asia
No matter what country you're from and what you call immunizations (jabs, shots, pricks, inmunización, nadel) the bottom line is you probably need to get some before you do any traveling to third world countries. We asked our adventure friends around the world what they thought and below are their recommendations for travel to Asia.
(Photo courtesy of One World Trekking)
Andy Crisconi of One World Trekking recommends:
I receive immunization questions all the time from clients. Personally, I believe in getting the minimum recommended or required by the country being visited. Most people hate shots and they are/have become a rather expensive part of trip preparations. Most of my treks are in the Himalayan countries of South Asia.
Minimums I recommend to my clients are:
- Adult polio booster
- Tetanus / diphtheria
- Hepatitis A
- Yellow Fever (required for all South America trips)
- Malaria medication only if visiting the jungle areas of these countries.
Doctors and travel clinics tend to err towards more shots to cover all possible situations, so I think it important that each individual traveler and the tour operator do the research and discuss the options. Also, many times different shot or pills are recommended depending on the time of year you visit a certain country. For folks wanting to visit Nepal during the monsoon months, I may recommend they also get a Meningitis shot.
In terms of general travel safety in Asia, a few tips I would also offer are:
1. Water safety: Assume all water to be contaminated. Drink bottled or properly boiled water only. Brush your teeth with bottled or properly boiled water only and keep your mouth closed while taking a shower.
2. Be a compulsive hand washer.
A bottle of hand sanitizer should be carried with you during the trek and be used after visiting the restroom, before each meal, after handling paper bills and coins, before putting-in or taking-out contact lenses... Hepatitis A and Typhoid are passed in human feces, so be a compulsive hand cleaner.
The Typhoid vaccine is strongly recommended for Asia and is available in both pill and shot form.
Dr. Erik McLaughlin, World Nomads’ Adventure Doc also recommends
1. Get a rabies vaccine beforehand!
Did you know that Rabies is 99.9999% fatal once contracted? And there is a worldwide rabies vaccine shortage at the moment?
Trekkers in developing nations are in an area where the is a much higher incidence of rabies than most industrial nations. Additionally, most people do not expect to be bitten by a dog or animal; this is what makes it an accident.
If you're bitten, your expensive trip is basically over, right there. That person needs to evacuate to a large city with proper medical care, although The post-exposure prophylaxis is generally indicated and may be difficult to find. Most rural and developing nation hospitals may not use the safer rabies vaccines instead using older types with risk to the traveler, such as severe allergic reaction.
Pre-exposure shots would have helped prevent this, although they are also hard to come by currently.
I try to discuss pros and cons with people but am a big fan of this vaccine, just because of the seriousness of the illness. I would DEMAND my mother or wife got this vaccine prior to trekking in a remote area and consequently offer the same advice to my patients. At the end of the day, the choice belongs to the patient/traveler.
2. Avoid mozzie bites
Use DEET and permethrin, long sleeves and pants and bed nets to prevent insect bites.
3. Consider Japanese Encephalitis vaccine
JE is spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes making it very difficult to prevent - and treatment once acquired, is only supportive. This means that once you actually get the illness, there is not a lot that can be done about it. However, a new (and safer) vaccine against JE has been developed and is worth considering if you are travelling in SE Asia. Find out more here
Of course always check with your doctor, but here is a handy list of what shots are recommended by country from The Travel Doctor as well as a link to the Center for Disease Control’s Traveler’s Health page.Read more stories from WorldNomads.com to help keep you travelling safely. WorldNomads.com - an essential part of every adventurous traveller's journey.
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