Thailand is a hugely popular destination for British holidaymakers, with over a million people travelling there annually. It has a tropical monsoon climate and a hugely diverse geography, including a long coastline, dense rainforest, paddy fields and high mountain ranges. Unfortunately, it also has a few health risks that we don’t have in Britain, and that means it’s vital that you take sensible medical precautions before you travel. Some vaccinations for Thailand are recommended, and some are mandatory in certain circumstances, so it’s important to know what vaccinations or injections for Thailand you need to get before you leave home.
What vaccinations do I need for Thailand?
It’s recommended that travellers to Thailand have jabs for tetanus and hepatitis A, possibly for Yellow Fever too, and they should also take additional precautions depending on which regions they’re visiting and the activities they plan to do.
Contracted through the contamination of cuts, burns and wounds, is a potential issue across the region, and in places where medical care is limited. An infection can be an unpleasant experience causing a tightening of the muscles in the body, which can than affect swallowing and breathing. A total of five injection doses of the tetanus vaccine are recommended for life in the UK and boosters are recommended if you haven’t had one for ten years.
A liver infection spread through contaminated water and food that causes high temperatures, joint pain, nausea, jaundice and itchy skin among other symptoms. It is prevalent anywhere sanitation is poor and has no specific treatment. jabs for hepatitis A can be given in one dose.
A serious infection spread through mosquito bites that can cause very high temperatures, vomiting, back pain and sensitivity to light.
Vaccination against yellow fever is mandatory for all travellers over nine months of age arriving from any countries with a risk of yellow fever – even if they’ve only transited (for more than 12 hours) through the airport. Remember to double-check your full travel itinerary before you leave and carry your certificate to prove you’ve been vaccinated.
Is there a risk of malaria in Thailand?
Mosquitoes are an ongoing problem in Thailand, especially for anyone spending any time in rural areas and lowland paddy fields where they breed. Malaria is the most well known and serious condition spread by mosquitoes, causing severe fever and sometimes even proving fatal – with some symptoms developing as long as a year after exposure.
In areas where malaria is a risk you should avoid mosquito bites by covering up with clothing such as long sleeves and long trousers, especially after sunset, use insect repellents on exposed skin and, when necessary, sleep under a mosquito net. A course of antimalarial tablets such as Atovaquone, Proguanil or Doxycycline is also advised for anyone spending significant time in any affected regions.
What about other diseases?
Other mosquito borne viruses present in Thailand include Dengue Fever, which causes fever, headache, severe joint and muscular pain, and the Zika virus, which is relatively mild but can have serious side effects for pregnant women. Both diseases are more common in urban areas than rural, and there is no effective vaccination or jab for either – with the best method of prevention to try and avoid being bitten. Mosquitoes also spread the brain disease Japanese encephalitis and, though unlikely, vaccination should be considered for anyone spending a long period in any of Thailand’s mosquito hotspots. Cholera may also be an issue, and this can be vaccinated against too if you’re planning on spending any serious amount of time in the rural areas.
How do I get vaccinations for Thailand?
Anyone requiring injections for Thailand should visit their GP six to eight weeks before they leave. They should also check for any medical updates on the official government website.
Many travel vaccinations are free on the NHS, including those for tetanus, diphtheria, polio, typhoid, hepatitis A and cholera so be sure to take advantage of this and get your free travel jabs.
High street chains like Boots and Superdrug also offer vaccination services but the costs can vary greatly. The International Society of Travel Medicine has clinics in 90 countries and provides pre-travel immunisation and counseling.
It’s important to be aware that not having the required inoculations could invalidate a travel insurance policy.