As Sarah and I gear up for our upcoming trip to Thailand, I made a last-minute stop at the local travel clinic to ensure I was up to date on my vaccinations. Here some things that the doctor recommended when traveling to Thailand this time of year.
If traveling primarily in only urban areas the list of vaccinations is generally standard. Most children are now vaccinated for common ailments.
I was given a Hepatitis A vaccination with a permanent booster shot that I’ll need to receive in 6 months. This vaccination is recommended for any US traveler leaving the country.
I skipped Hepatitis B because I was born around a time was very common to get that vaccine. Again, this vaccination is recommended for any US traveler leaving the country.
Typhoid vaccines are good for between 2 and 5 years; depending on the type of admission. The pills last longer but require a 4-dose regimen. You need to take the pills every other day so if you need a Typhoid vaccination, I’d recommend getting it sooner than later. Typhoid is recommended by the CDC for all travelers to Thailand.
Although I’m not vaccinated, I skipped the rabies vaccine because it costs around 1,800 USD and my insurance was not going to cover it. Rabid monkeys and dogs can be a problem in urban areas of Thailand so it’s suggested to avoid taking pictures with monkeys; even if it would make a good Facebook profile picture.
Also, the only hospitals that treat rabies are in Bangkok. Contracting rabies would require an immediate flight to the capital city if you are located elsewhere. Not worth the likes.
I recently received a Tetanus booster because I stabbed myself with something rusty so I could skip this as well but you should be up to date on routine immunizations. I took the free flu shot.
There is a whole long list of vaccinations the CDC recommends that aren’t as important if you stay out of the jungle.
Mosquitos can transmit disease in Thailand so it was recommended to make sure to wear repellent with at least 35% DEET. Mosquitos are well adapted to urban areas in the country so I was advised to wear repellent whenever I was outside. There are a couple issues that you can encounter with mosquitos in Thailand.
Malaria is common along the western, northern and southeastern borders of the country. Mosquitos with malaria typically bite only during the night. It’s only an issue if you are staying the night in the jungle and my doctor stated I likely wouldn’t have an issue with a day trip if I wore repellent. Additionally, it’s the off season (February) for these mosquitos and the risk is even lower.
Zika has been a concern around the world due to its link to birth defects. The doctor advised that we should not have a baby for 6 months after returning from Thailand. Since Zika shows few symptoms, it’s hard to catch it before it causes problems.
Dengue and Chikungunya
Both are a pretty high risk in both urban and rural areas. The best you can do is wear repellent.
It was advised to completely avoid drinking tap water. This means that you need to avoid water, ice and anything washed with water. This includes fruit and vegetables. My doctor made note that this is the only time that she recommends that I drink the beer instead of eating the salad. She also suggested to use bottled water for brushing our teeth and to keep our mouth closed in the shower. Pretty serious. Water can contain bacteria that can cause and infection and prevent you from leaving the toilet for the better part of two weeks without medication. I was given a prescription to azithromycin to combat any accidental water poisonings.
- Tap water and ice
- Drinks with ice
- Undercooked meat
- Raw fruits and vegetables
- Food from street vendors
- Food placed on ice
- Boiled Water
- Bottled Drinks
- Hot Drinks
- Beer and wine
- Thoroughly cooked food
One last tidbit of information that I was given was that the Thai king, Bhumibol Adulyadej, has recently passed away. He had ruled the country for 70 years and the Thai people are pretty bummed about it. My doctor recommended that we make sure to show respect about the situation.
This had to be one of the most informative doctor visits I’ve ever had.
On to Thailand!
Sarah and I head to Thailand on Sunday. I’ll be traveling for almost a full day but we will be enjoying the beautiful sites throughout the country. We’ll be visiting Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket. Look forward to a post or two about the journey!