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Vaccinations! The confusing inoculations which strike fear and uncertainty into the hearts of travelers, adventurers and needle-fearers across the globe.
If you’re traveling to Vietnam, some vaccinations are essential – and skipping them can be a way more dangerous prospect than having a health professional jab a needle into your arm.
Sharp? They are. Painful? They can be. Necessary? Absolutely.
Clench your teeth, wince and look away – let’s learn more about the vaccines you need for traveling to Vietnam:
Do I Need Vaccines for Vietnam?
Yes, you need vaccines to travel to Vietnam. Some vaccines are required, while others are recommended depending on various factors.
These factors include how long you’ll be in Vietnam, where you’ll be going and what you’ll be doing.
What Are the Recommended Travel Vaccinations for Vietnam?
Here are the vaccines you should absolutely consider for traveling in Vietnam – they’re recommended for most travelers:
- Hepatitis A: symptoms include stomach problems and fever. Because this infection is spread through contaminated food and water, it’s more prevalent in countries with poor sanitation and poor food hygiene practices.
- Hepatitis B: similar to Hepatitis A, but more extreme, and has a greater chance of affecting the liver. Hepatitis B is spread through infected blood and bodily fluids, and it’s pretty prevalent in Vietnam.
- Tetanus: spread through contaminated soil (weird), tetanus causes lockjaw, muscle spasms and other strange symptoms. Found throughout the world, it’s a good idea to get a tetanus vaccine wherever you go.
- Typhoid: mainly spread through food and water, typhoid typically causes symptoms similar to food poisoning. The disease is found wherever food hygiene standards can be poor, so it’s a good idea to consider a Typhoid vaccination for Vietnam.
- Diphtheria: spread from person to person through respiratory droplets, diphtheria is present in Southeast Asia, and can affect many parts of the body. It most commonly affects the throat, and can cause death.
You should definitely consider the above five vaccinations.
But ensure you speak to a healthcare professional before getting any vaccinations – you may have already been vaccinated for these things, or they may not be suitable for you.
What Are the Vaccinations I Should Consider for Vietnam?
While the above are recommended for the vast majority of travelers, there are other vaccinations which you may need (or want!) depending on your plans in Vietnam. They are:
- Rabies: rabies doesn’t need much introduction, but it’s prevalent in Vietnam and it’s spread through contact with infected dogs, cats and bats. A rabies vaccine is recommended for long-term travelers, those who’ll be spending time in rural areas, and those who’ll be coming into contact with animals. Rabies is almost always fatal once symptoms appear.
- Japanese Encephalitis: a potentially serious mosquito-borne disease, this is almost exclusively spread in areas with rice paddies. Though it’s unusual to contract this disease, the vaccine is recommended for travelers who’ll be spending lots of time in rural areas.
Again, consider your travel plans in relation to these vaccines, and talk to a doctor before you make a decision.
Is There Malaria in Vietnam?
Yes, there is malaria in Vietnam, but only in some parts of the country.
You should check this Vietnam malaria map to assess the risk in the areas you’ll be traveling to. While some parts of the country have a moderate risk of malaria, other parts have basically no presence of the disease.
The most important consideration is malaria prevention. Avoid bites by using sprays, wearing long-length trousers and shirts and trying to avoid bite-heavy hours. Mosquito nets can also be a good idea in some places.
You might want to consider taking one of the various available medications for malaria – there are many different options available. If you have some pre-existing health conditions, malaria medication might be advised or even essential.
Though malaria isn’t a huge problem in Vietnam, you should be wary of it – malaria can have serious consequences, and is sometimes fatal.
Is There Zika Virus in Vietnam?
Yes, Zika virus is present in Vietnam. Spread largely through mosquito bites, the illness itself is usually pretty mild, but it can be problematic for pregnant women and their unborn babies. If you’re pregnant (or planning to have a baby, whether you’re male or female), you should consider changing or adapting your plans.
There is no Zika virus vaccine.
There’s more information on Zika virus here.
Do I Need a Yellow Fever Vaccination for Vietnam?
No, you don’t need a yellow fever vaccination for Vietnam. There is no presence of yellow fever in Vietnam.
Can I Go to Vietnam Without Vaccinations?
You can, but you might die. Or get sick.
Get the recommended vaccines instead, and you’ll have a much better time without having to worry.
When Should I Get Vaccinated for Vietnam?
It depends upon when you’re traveling and which vaccines you’ll be getting.
Some vaccinations require one dose, while others require a series of doses over a period of 2 to 4 weeks. The rabies vaccination, for example, often requires a program of three separate doses over a period of 28 days.
In order to make sure you have enough time for any and all vaccinations you need, you should speak to a healthcare professional 6-8 weeks before you set off on your trip.
If you don’t obtain your vaccines according to a proper schedule, they may not work effectively.
How Much Do Vaccines for Vietnam Cost?
Rates vary hugely depending on which vaccines you want and which country you’re getting them in. But here are some general guidelines:
- Hepatitis A: $76
- Hepatitis B: $65
- Tetanus and Diphtheria (combined along with Polio): $45
- Typhoid: $45
- Rabies: $78
- Japanese Encephalitis: $115
(All prices are per dose, and some vaccinations may require more than one dose).
All prices are taken from MASTA Travel. Though they’re a UK company (and these prices aren’t applicable in all countries), their prices are a good indication of what you might expect to pay.
Prices will differ depending on the country in which you receive your vaccinations, but the above figures give an idea of how expensive the vaccines typically are in relation to one another.
In some countries, some vaccinations are free or subsidised, and prices might vary according to whether or not you have health insurance.
It’s therefore impossible to give bespoke advice for any and all travelers.
But here’s my top tip…
Many travelers get their vaccinations while they’re in cheaper countries – and Thailand is a brilliant choice. If you want jabs for rabies or Japanese encephalitis (or any other expensive vaccine), it can be a good idea to get them in Thailand before you go to Vietnam.
The Thai Travel Clinic, located in Bangkok, is an excellent option for travelers seeking inexpensive jabs which usually run at high prices.
I’ve been there myself – the service is great, the hospital is fantastic and the jab fees offer a great way to save money.
As an example, while a Japanese encephalitis jab from MASTA Travel costs at least $115, the same treatment costs only $16 at the Thai Travel Clinic in Bangkok.
A Small Note on Vaccinations for Vietnam
It’s important to note that all healthcare advice could change at any time, so while all of this information is correct at the time of writing, that may not always be the case.
You should also remember that I’m not a medical expert! I’m handsome and hilarious and I’m a brilliant travel writer, but I’m definitely not a doctor. Always listen to a doctor instead of me (unless it’s a fake doctor), and always speak to a doctor before you make a decision on vaccines.
Recommendations to Avoid Getting Sick While in Vietnam
Okay, all of the above is the ‘official’ line, where I tell you what you absolutely should do.
And there are of course things which you absolutely should do, especially in relation to vaccines.
But here’s what I’d recommend the most: don’t worry.
It’s easy to get caught up in panicking about all the vaccinations you might need, all the precautions you should take and all the things you should avoid doing. But if you spend too much time thinking about all those things and not focusing on enjoying yourself, you shouldn’t have bothered going on vacation in the first place.
People will tell you to avoid street food. In a nation which has some of the best street food on the planet, that advice is stupid. Instead, just focus on washing your hands – and focus on not being a paranoid whiner.
People will tell you not to go to local markets. Again, that’s stupid advice, as Vietnam is packed with incredible and interesting local markets.
People will tell you not to cross busy streets. And not to visit rural areas. And not to rent bicycles. And not to go on boat trips. And not to trust anyone. And not to do anything, in case you get hurt.
Don’t listen to those people.
You should take precautions, and you should use your common sense. But you should also throw yourself into Vietnam enthusiastically and without hesitation, as it’s one of the most exciting and interesting nations on the planet.
Take precautions, but don’t let these precautions limit your trip.
Traveling is meant to be adventurous – it’s not meant to be an exercise in restraint.
… make sure you get vaccines for Vietnam!
Consider where you’re going, what you’re doing and how long for, and you’ll then be able to decide which vaccines you need and which others you might want. But ensure you speak to a doctor before you make any decisions.
But most importantly, while you’re being safe and healthy, ensure you’re also having lots of fun!
Want to know more about Vietnam? Like what it’s famous for? Or information on its cities? Or where you should visit? We’ve got everything you need to know right here on our site – so stay with us to learn more.
Paul is a handsome and hilarious travel writer and travel journalist from the UK. He’s hiked, hitchhiked and laughed his way through more than fifty countries, and he’s always looking for a new place to call home. Originally from Newcastle, he’s lived all over the UK, spent more than three years in Asia, and most recently lived in Vietnam. Here’s his website.