Vaccinations for a trip to Southeast Asia - What diseases, and is it worth the cost?

Last updated: April 25th, 2018. 
Note: I am not a medical professional. Consult a professional before taking prescribed medication.

Hello hello hello...

We have hit the 1 month until I leave Pittsburgh for Southeast Asia mark.  Real preparation is upon me... and right now that means medical preparation.

Yesterday I received 3 vaccinations: Hepatitis A, Typhoid, and Japanese Encephalitis. 

Vaccination for travel is an interesting subject and usually falls into the "afterthought" category for most people going on a trip. You've decided you're going. You have start preparing and.... OH WAIT! Health preparation! 


"Look up vaccinations" sat on my to-do list for far too long (story of my life) before I started compiling the research.  I do not suggest this. The sooner you start looking into this, the better. 

The Center for Disease Control website outlines what diseases humans can contract in various countries.  

Once you have obtained the information on what diseases it is possible for one to acquire, you then need to get the information on what diseases it is likely someone will acquire.


This information is harder to find.  It's a mixture of odds, personal beliefs, and anecdotal tips.  Because of this, it's hard to know what is accurate. Ah, the sweet balancing act between safety and practicality.

I wanted more resources when I was looking it up, so I am sharing my own personal situation.

CDC Disease risks for Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand:

Hepatitis A and B
Japanese Encephalitis
Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis (vaccination injected in form of one TDAP shot)
Malaria Pills

Is it necessary to vaccinate against all of these diseases? 

This comes down to personal a personal decision after researching the topic yourself. 

After consulting with the County Health Department, two physicians, google, trip advisor, friends currently traveling, and my own medical records, I gathered the following information....

Hepatitis A and B - These diseases can be contracted through food and water anywhere (even swanky places), so everyone should be vaccinated. You may already have the vaccinations depending on your age.
Typhoid - The Typhoid vaccination is highly suggested for everyone, especially adventurous eaters and people going to smaller villages. So.... adventurous eaters? Yeah, I am going to need that one. 
UPDATE 4/25/18 - I met someone in Thailand who contracted with Typhoid, so it does happen. I was vaccinated.
Japanese Encephalitis - This is the tricky one. Read below. 
Polio, MMR, TDAP - These are standard vaccinations. 
Malaria - Personal choice to vaccinate. 

I moved forward with Hepatitis A, Typhoid and Japanese Encephalitis. 

Japanese Encephalitis was the hardest choice.  If you're not spending an extended period of time in rural areas.. and if you follow anti-bug practices... typically, it is unlikely that you will contract the disease.

However, you can't tell the mosquitos that they have to follow these rules.  

The deciding factors for me were the length of my stay (2 months) and the fact that there is no treatment for Japanese Encephalitis. 

Travel in South East Asia for less than one month is usually fine. I am traveling for two months at the tail end of mosquito season. 


There is no cure for Japanese Encephalitis. According to the World Health Organization, up to 30% of cases result in death and of the survivors, 30-50% suffer permanent neurological damage. 

Even though the odds are small, the risk is pretty large.  So why don't people get it? The vaccination is very expensive, requiring multiple shots of over $300 USD.  All of the other shots combined cost less at the County Health Department.

I am not here to tell you to get a vaccination or not.  That is entirely up to you to decide. Do the research for yourself and see how you feel.


If you do decide to move forward, act as soon as possible.  The Japanese Encephalitis shots must be completed a minimum of 28 days before arrival in the country. 

The Malaria vaccination is a set of pills you take while traveling and requires a prescription by a doctor. 

Do you have any vaccination or disease prevention advice? I would love to hear it!

So vaccinations are now crossed off my list.... and now onto the next thing! 

Click here to read my experiences with Malaria prevention pills! 

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Note: I am not a medical professional. Consult a professional before taking prescribed medication.