Travel Vaccinations for Thailand, Laos and Cambodia

One visit to the doctor’s surgery and two sore arms later, I’m here with a blog about travel vaccinations. I promised myself I’d write about vaccinations for Southeast Asia, not just because I was so unsure myself when researching, but also because I’d like to remember. Hopefully it’ll help somebody who’s currently feeling confused about it all!

What Travel Vaccinations Do I Need For Southeast Asia?

First of all, I’d like to make clear that I’m not a health professional of any kind, so I can only write from personal experience – and this is only for Laos, Thailand and Cambodia. If you’re uncertain about anything, please ask a qualified doctor or nurse.

One tip I will give, which I’m sure applies everywhere, is that it’s always better to get your vaccinations sorted out earlier rather than later. It can be difficult to get an appointment,  and some vaccinations – such as the Hepatitis B one – require multiple jabs (which can’t all be administered at once), so timing is crucial! Anyhow, here’s that guide:

  1. Risk Assessment Form – About 3 weeks ago I phoned my local doctors surgery and enquired about travel vaccinations for SE Asia. They told me to pop in to pick up a travel risk assessment form (shown below). This is just a straightfoward form that asks what countries you’re travelling to, the length of your stay, previous medical history and so on. It’s pretty simple and it will help them to prepare for your visit. So yeah, fill that in and give it ’em back – that’s your first step.

Risk Assessment

2. Arranging an appointment – The same week I handed in my travel form, I got a call from a friendly NHS receptionist to check when I wanted to be booked in for my vaccinations. Either 2 weeks on a Tuesday or Thursday were my options, so I went for the Tuesday (which was today!) and booked a half-day off from work. Perhaps if they couldn’t contact you by phone, you’d get a letter in the post instead – I’m not sure.

3. Information and vaccinations – I was booked in with a nurse called Lynn, who made me feel at ease right away (although she did make the mistake of asking “but why are you going alone?”, but let’s not go into that!). She’d printed out a wad of information about the different countries I’m visiting and what the health risks were from Travex (a website just for health professionals – Fit For Travel is the public’s version). She spoke in detail about these, before giving me them to take home and read about in more depth.

The information she gave me was too detailed and complex to go into here (I admit I haven’t read it all yet myself), and it can all be found online, but I may update this post at some point when I’m not half asleep! For now I’ll just tell you what vaccines I had, and what I’ve been advised to do next.

SE Asia Travel Jabs

Today I had FIVE vaccinations for Southeast Asia, which sounds pretty rough, but actually I only had to have TWO injections (which is good because I’m not the best with needles). These were:

  1. Combined Hepatitis A & Typhoid Fever
  2. Diphtheria/Tetanus/Polio

Both of these were free to have on the NHS. One of these needles (I’m not sure which) hurt more, and my arm is sore to lean on. I’m feeling a little bit sorry for myself right now.

photo 1

A Note On Hepatitis B & Malaria

The nurse also spoke to me about having the Hepatitis B jab, but since this virus is spread through blood and bodily fluids, such as by sharing needles or having unprotected sex, both of which aren’t on my Southeast Asia to-do list, she’s left it for today and said to call if I change my mind. You can find out more about the Hepatitis B virus and how it spreads here.

Last but not least, Malaria is a real risk in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, and can be fatal. It’s spread through infected mosquitos, which I’ve been forewarned tend to get especially hungry from dusk till dawn, so wearing long sleeve tops and trousers during this time is a good idea. A DEET based insect repellent is also a must, as well as antimalarial tablets, which I need to go get a prescription for before I go (these are no longer free on the NHS).

That’s all for tonight!

Update! I picked up my antimalarial tablets this week, and I’m £40 poorer for it, too! My doctor prescribed me Mefloquine.

Update! Update! Regarding Mefloquine, also known as Lariam. Please do your research if you are prescribed this antimalarial medication. I’ve since learned that there are far safer antimalarial tablets to take. Please see the comments on this post and have a read about the potential side effects of lariam here. The new antimalarial tablets I’ve been prescribed are called Doxycycline, and these were significantly cheaper at £12.15. 

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Andrew Marriott says:

    Mefloquine is the most dangerous anti-malarial option for prophylaxis. It should have come with a Patient Alert Card along with a very detailed Patient Information Leaflet. It has been implicated in a range of psychiatric illnesses including suicide. Please look at Parliament’s Defence Select Committee Inquiry website for details of the damage it has done to members of the Armed Forces or listen to the BBC’s documentary, The Lariam Legacy, available through a quick Google search. There are much safer alternatives.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. TravelCopy says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for commenting. I haven’t started taking the prescribed Mefloquine yet and wasn’t aware of any risks since NO mental health side effects were mentioned to me whatsoever.

    I’ve had a read of the Parliament’s Defence Select Committee Inquiry (thank you for informing me about this) and have since been researching more. I don’t feel confident taking now, so I’m going to contact my doctor. Thanks again for warning me!

    Like

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