When it comes to getting your vaccinations for Vietnam, you should always check with your doctor. For instance, extra vaccinations may be required depending on the nature of your trip. Also, make sure you read the section below on Dengue Fever. ‘Dengue’ is prevalent in Hoi An, particularly around the rainy season.
What Vaccinations do I Need for Vietnam?
All travellers to Vietnam
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the following vaccinations (or boosters) for travellers to Southeast Asia:
|Hepatitis A||This provides almost 100% protection for up to a year. A booster after 12 months provides at least another 20 years’ protection.|
|Hepatitis B||Now considered routine for most travellers. This is frequently administered as a combined vaccination with Hepatitis A. Lifetime protection occurs in 95% of people.|
|Measles, mumps and rubella||Two doses of MMR are required unless you have had the diseases. Many young adults require a booster.|
|Adult diphtheria||Single booster recommended if you’ve had none in the previous 10 years.|
|Tetanus and Typhoid||These jabs offer around 70% protection and last for 2 – 3 years|
Long Term Travellers
These vaccinations are recommended for people traveling for more than one month, or those at special risk:
|Japanese Encephalitis||Recommended for travelers to endemic areas who will have extensive outdoor exposure. A booster is recommended after 12 months. A sore arm and headache are the most common side effects reported.|
|Rabies||Three injections in all. Booster not routinely needed for general travelers.|
|Tuberculosis||Adults should have a TB skin test before and after travel, rather than the vaccination.|
For more information, read Vaccinations for Vietnam article written by a medical practitioner.
How Much do Vaccinations to Vietnam Cost?
The cost of Vietnam travel vaccinations will depend on the medical system in your home country. Of course, it also depends which ones you take, in accordance with your travel plans.
In the UK, the basic vaccinations are available free of charge on the NHS, although if you require e.g. malaria tablets (due to travelling to more remote places), you would have to pay separately.
In the US, the average cost of a single vaccination is around 65 USD – this can differ wildly depending on healthcare plans and insurance. This is also the case for Australian residents – check the cost of each individual vaccination with your doctor and if you have a private health fund, see if you are covered.
What Dangerous Conditions Can You Catch in Vietnam?
As well as the conditions highlighted above – which you can be vaccinated against – there are a few conditions to be aware of that either have no vaccination or may be more prevalent in rural and remote areas.
What is Dengue fever?
Dengue is around – especially during the rainy season, so make sure you take precautions.
Dengue fever is carried by mosquitoes. There are 4 different subtypes. The disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes that transmit dengue usually breed in urban areas close to human habitation and are most active during daylight hours. However, people should be most vigilant during the hours approaching dusk as this is when most people get bitten.
What is the treatment for Dengue Fever?
There is no specific treatment for dengue fever. Drink lots of water. Many expats recommend getting yourself on a hospital drip as soon as possible. If you have had dengue, do not think you are immune. You are not. The second time around can be far worse than the first time.
How do you know if you have Dengue Fever?
Dengue fever is a severe, flu-like illness that affects infants, young children and adults, but seldom causes death. Dengue should be suspected when a high fever (40°C/104°F) is accompanied by two of the following symptoms: severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands or rash. Symptoms usually last for 2–7 days, after an incubation period of 4–10 days following the bite from an infected mosquito. A small but significant number of patients will go on to develop more severe life-threatening forms of the disease.
What’s the prevention for Dengue Fever?
While a vaccine has recently been developed, it is not yet available to the general public so be particularly vigilant around dawn and dusk to avoid mosquito bites and … Use DEET-based repellents as these are the most effective.
Is Dengue Fever dangerous?
Severe dengue is a potentially deadly complication due to plasma leaking, fluid accumulation, respiratory distress, severe bleeding, or organ impairment. Warning signs occur 3–7 days after the first symptoms in conjunction with a decrease in temperature (below 38°C/100°F) and include: severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, rapid breathing, bleeding gums, fatigue, restlessness and blood in vomit. The next 24–48 hours is the critical stage; proper medical care is needed to avoid complications and risk of death.
What can you do to prevent getting Dengue Fever?
Make sure you spray all the areas we don’t normally cover with a DEET based repellent like ankles, behind the knees, arms and neck.
Clothing tips to keep in mind
Wear light-colored clothing, since mosquitoes are more attracted to darker colors. Wear long-sleeved shirts, socks and consider tucking your trousers into your socks, especially if you’re going hiking.
For further information on Dengue Fever, read Surviving Dengue in Cambodia. Written by a writer from the website Move to Cambodia, it is an excellent outline of just how different the symptoms of dengue can be.
Malaria is virtually non-existent across most of Vietnam. There is a small risk in more remote and rural areas, so be aware before you travel. Avoiding mosquito bites in such places is the best defence.
Malaria pills such a malarone or mefloquine can be purchased before leaving your home country as a precaution, but have an idea of your destination plans and speak with your doctor before you leave – if your trip to Vietnam will follow one of the many popular tourist routes, taking such pills may be unnecessary.
Also spread by mosquitos, there’s no current vaccine against Zika virus. Read our guide to avoiding it here.
Again spread by mosquitos, Japanese encephalitis can cause various symptoms including nausea, stomach upset, extreme weakness and long-term complications if untreated.
If you’re travelling to remote areas and plan on working outside for long periods, you may wish to consider a vaccination, available in some countries including Canada and the US. Check your destination with your doctor before travelling, and of course, wear a DEET-based insect spray.
Other Precautions to Take Against Disease
As with any foreign travel, common sense will go a long way as a precaution to take against disease! The most likely affliction you’ll come down with is the infamous ‘traveller’s diarrhoea’. This is usually down to an imbalance of good/bad gut bacteria and will right itself after 3-5 days. Although if it’s accompanied by fever and/or vomiting, it’s worth seeking medical help immediately.
Unlike many other destinations in south-east Asia, hygiene in Vietnam is at a high standard. Ice is generally safe, and street food too. Avoid drinking water from taps – always stick to bottled or boiled water. And clean your hands regularly.
Use your discretion – if a food vendor has a crowd of people then it’s very unlikely that you’ll get food poisoning. Quieter places in more rural areas may have a slower turnover of food, making them less safe.
Insect sprays containing DEET are the best method of avoiding bites from mosquitos, along with using mosquito nets and wearing clothes – which isn’t always practical when in a hot country!
For best results, spray into your hand before applying, then rub onto exposed skin. Apply regularly – the spray will easily be brushed off by clothes or in water.