Before you go - Vaccinations

The only vaccine required by international regulations is yellow fever. Proof of vaccination will only be required if you have visited a country in the yellow-fever zone within the six days proor to entering Vietnam. If you are travelling to Vietnam from Africa or South Africa you should check to see if you require proof of vaccination.


Specialised travel-medicine clinics are your best source of information; they stock all available vaccines and will be able to give specific recommendations for you and your trip. The doctors will take into account factors such as past vaccination history, the length of your trip, activities you may be undertaking, and underlying medical conditions, such as pregnancy.


Most vaccines don't produce immunity until at least two weeks after they're given, so visit a doctor four to eight weeks before departure. Ask your doctor for an International Certificate of Vaccination (otherwise known as the yellow booklet), which will list all the vaccinations you've received. In the US, the yellow booklet is no longer issued, but it is highly unlikely the Vietnam authorities will ask for proof of vaccinations (unless you have recently been in a yellow-fever affected country).


For info on current immunisation recommendations for Vietnam, contact the international team of doctors at the Family Medical Practice ( in Hanoi  and HCMC. They can provide the latest information on vaccinations, malaria and dengue-fever status, and offer general medical advice regarding Vietnam.



Recommended items for a personal medical kit:

antifungal cream, eg Clotrimazole

antibacterial cream, eg Muciprocin

antibiotics for skin infections, eg Amoxicillin/Clavulanate or Cephalexin

antibiotics for diarrhoea, eg Norfloxacin or Ciprofloxacin

Azithromycin for bacterial diarrhoea, and Tinidazole for giardiasis or amoebic dysentery

antihistamines for allergires, ef Cetrizine for daytime and Promethazine  for night anti-inflammeatories, eg Ibuprofen

antinausea medication, eg Prochlorperazine

antiseptic for cuts and scrapes, eg Betadine

antispasmodic for stomach cramps, eg Buscopa


decongetant for colds and fluts, eg Pseudoephedrine

DEET-based insect repellent

diarrhoea “stopper”, eg Loperamide

first-aid items such as scissors, plasters (Band Aids), bandages, gauze, thermometer (electronic, not mercury), sterile needles and syringes, safety pins abd tweezers

indigestion medication, eg Quick Eze or Mylanta

iodine tablets (unless you are pregnant or have a thyroid problem) to purify water laxatve, eg Coloxyl

migraine medication (your personal brand), if a migrain sufferer

oral-rehydration solution for diarrhoea, eg Gastrolyte

paracetamol for pain

permethrin (to impregnate clothing and mosquito nets) for repelling insects

steroid cream for allergic/itchy raches, eg 1% to 2% hydrocortisone

sunscreen and hat

throat lozenges

thrush (vaginal yeast infection) treatmeant, eg Clotrimazole pessaries or Diflucan tablet

urine alkalisation agent, eg Ural, if you are prone to urinary tract infections



The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the following vaccinations for travellers to Southeast Asia:

- Adult diphtheria and tetanus - single booster recommended if you've had none in the previous 10 years. Side effects include a sore arm and fever.

- Hepatitis A - provides almost 100% protection for up to a year; a booster after 12 months provides at least another 20 years' protection. Mild side effects such as headache and a sore arm occur for between 5% and 10% of people.

- Hepatitis B - now considered routine for most travellers. Given as three shots over six months. A rapid schedule is also available, as is a combined vaccination with Hepatitis A. Side effects are mild and uncommon, usually a headache and sore arm. Lifetime protection occurs in 95% of people.

- Measles, mumps and rubella - two doses of MMR required unless you have had the diseases. Occasionaily a rash and flulike illness can develop a week after receiving the vaccine. Mariy young adults require a booster.

- Polio - in 2002, no countries in Southeast Asia reported cases of polio. Only one booster is required as an adult for lifetime protection. Inactivated polio vaccine is safe during pregnancy.

- Typhoid - recommended unless your trip is less than a week and only to developed cities. The vaccine offers around 70% protection, lasts for two or three years and comes as a single shot. Tablets are also available; however, the injection is usually recommended as il has fewer side effects. Sore arm and fever may occur.

- Varicella - if you haven't had chickenpox, discuss this vaccination with your doctor.



These vaccinations are recommended for people travelling more than one month, or those at special risk:

- Japanese B Encephalitis - three injections in all. Booster recommended after two years. A sore arm and headache are the most common side effects. Rarely, an allergic reaction comprising hives and swelling can occur up to 10 days after any of the three doses.

- Meningitis - single injection. There are two types of vaccination: the quadri"alenl vaccine gives two to three years protection; meningitis group C vaccine gives around 10 years protection. Recommended for long-term travellers aged under 25.

- Rabies - three injections in all. A booster after one year will provide 10 years of protection. Side effects are rare - occasionally a headache and sore arm.

- Tuberculosis - adult long-term travellers are usually recommended to have a TB skin test before and after travel, rather than vaccination. Only one vaccine is given in a lifetime.



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