When it comes to travel preparations, there are always some people who love it and others who absolutely hate it. I love preparing for a big trip. Booking tickets, buying gear, making lists of places to visit; it is a great way to get hyped up and channel the excitement. Still, there are some things that even I don’t like doing. Alongside visa applications, figuring out whether I need yet another travel vaccine can be a real headache, especially as I don’t know how long the ones I already have will last.
Now it’s important to mention that it is always wise to consult a doctor before travelling. That being said, if you travel a lot, there is a good chance you have had most of the vaccinations you need. Before my last trip to South East Asia I decided that it was time to finally get on top of my vaccination history so that I am aware of what I need and when I’ll need it. I decided to create this guide with the information I found to help save time when preparing for travels in future!
Where do I need it for? Hepatitis A can be common in any country with poor hygiene or general sanitation problems.
How long am I covered*? There is conflicting information online about how long this shot lasts, but many reliable sources say that you are covered for life with this vaccine. In all cases, it is sure to cover you for at least 20 years.
How much is it**? This vaccine is pretty cheap or even free in countries with free healthcare like the UK. If you want to purchase the vaccine privately, this one is a bit more expensive and could cost you between $45 and $85. It is often combined with either Typhoid or Hepatitis B, so the price may vary.
Where do I need it for? Hepatitis B can be found in South East Asia, the Caribbean, the Middle East and in the South and Western Pacific.
How long am I covered? The Hep. B vaccine usually lasts about 10 years though some sources claim it can last up to 15. In general it is better to ask your doctor, but you are sure to be set for at least 10 years.
How much is it? Hepatitis B is considered a private travel vaccine, so it will cost you a lot regardless of whether you live in a country with free healthcare. Sometimes, when it is combined with a Hepatitis A shot, it can be free or cheap, but in most cases you will pay between $35 and $95.
Where do I need it for? Tetanus exists everywhere in the world. Polio can be found in developing countries in Asia and Africa. Diptheria exists in most countries in sub-Saharan Arica as well as in parts of South America and South East Asia. It generally makes sense to get this vaccine regardless of where you’re going.
How long am I covered? The DTP vaccine generally lasts for 10 years.
How much is it? Once again, in most countries with free healthcare, this vaccine will be very cheap or even free. Otherwise the DTP combined booster will generally cost between $25 and $50.
Japanese B Encephalitis
Where do I need it for? Only needed if you spend a lot of time in rural areas such as rice paddies or when working with pigs. In those cases, this vaccine is needed in South, East and South East Asia.
How long am I covered? It is claimed to last between 1 and 3 years, though the most reliable sources claim that it only covers you for 1 year.
How much is it? This is also a private travel vaccine and it can be pretty expensive, ranging anywhere from $45 to $150.
Tick Borne Encephalitis
Where do I need it for? This one is quite rare but can be found in Western Russia, Central-Eastern Europe and Scandinavia.
How long am I covered? Similarly to Japanese Encephalitis, this vaccine lasts 1 to 3 years.
How much is it? Once again, the price is also similar to Japanese Encephalitis and can range from $45 to $150.
Where do I need it for? Rabies can occur in most parts of the world but is most common in Asia, Africa and South America.
How long am I covered? The vaccine can last up to 2 years, but you can only be sure to be 100% covered by it for 1 year.
How much is it? This is also a private travel vaccine but it is generally quite cheap and available for $17.50 to $40.
Where do I need it for? Most common in countries that could have sewage-contaminated water such as Africa, South America and East Asia. It can also occur in Southern and South East Asia.
How long am I covered? The Typhoid vaccine generally lasts 3 years.
How much is it? Typhoid will be cheap or free in countries with free healthcare. Privately, the vaccine costs between $25 and $40.
Where do I need it for? Yellow Fever mainly dwells in the tropical countries of Africa and South America. Some infected countries will require you to show evidence of having had the vaccine to enter.
How Long Does it Last? The Yellow Fever vaccine generally lasts 10 years.
How Much Does it Cost? This is another private travel vaccine, the price of which ranges from $45 to $80.
Where do I need it for? Meningitis is mainly a risk in the “meningitis belt” in sub-Saharan Africa, which stretches from Ethiopia to Senegal. There have also been outbreaks in the Middle East.
How long am I covered? The Meningitis vaccine generally lasts 3 to 5 years.
How much is it? Meningitis is a private vaccine that can cost between $80 and $160.
Where do I need it for? TB occurs everywhere in the world, but the most hardly hit countries include India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan, China and South Africa.
How long am I covered? The TB vaccine generally lasts 15 years.
How much is it? TB is another private travel vaccine and can cost between $100 and $200.
I’ve double checked and cross-referenced all of the information here to the best of my abilities. Different diseases can have varying levels of risk and gravity. Whether you decide to get vaccinated is up to you, though it is always wise to consult with a doctor. In general, whether vaccinated or not, make sure you protect yourself from mosquitos, always use protection during sexual intercourse, avoid water that isn’t bottled and stay away from stray or wild animals.
*The length of coverage can vary and it is always best to check with a doctor if you have doubts.
**Costs can vary. The price ranges displayed here are based on averages from Western Europe and North America.
Based on a piece written for Travelr Mag in march 2016.