Vaccinations for Thailand: An up-to-date list of all essential inoculations
Brimming with welcoming people, rich culture, pristine beaches, and vibrant cuisine, it can be hard to think of Thailand as a place where you may be exposed to diseases. While most foreigners who travel to or live in the Land of Smiles do not encounter any problems (and if they do, it’s usually food poisoning or a “traveler’s cough”), it’s important to be aware of the health risks here. After all, it’s better to be safe than sorry. To help ensure that your time in the country is without the threat of illness, Pacific Prime Thailand looks at the injections for Thailand that you/your family might need.
A word about the COVID-19 vaccinations for Thailand
We can’t talk about vaccinations without mentioning the COVID-19 vaccine. The Thai government’s vaccination schedule aims to inoculate at least 50% of the population before the end of 2021, starting with frontline healthcare workers in February, followed by other vulnerable groups. The vaccine will be free for Thais, but it’s unclear if expats will be eligible.
At the moment, there are also very strict entry requirements for Thailand, including a mandatory 14-day quarantine at a hotel and proof of COVID-19 insurance. It is yet to be seen whether a COVID-19 vaccine will allow travelers to skip quarantine upon arrival and/or the insurance requirement.
Note: This information is accurate at the time of writing and is subject to change without prior notice.
Things to consider if…
The Thailand vaccinations you need will depend on a number of factors, one of the most important being your specific situation (e.g. where in the country you will be staying). Here, we look at the things to consider if:
You’re traveling/moving to Thailand
Before you go, you may be wondering: “What injections do I need for Thailand?”. According to the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers, the only required vaccination for Thailand is yellow fever. Proof of vaccination is only needed if you have visited a country in the “yellow fever zone” prior to entering Thailand, which mostly includes African and South American countries.
Another consideration is the risks you will actually face in Thailand. If you’re staying in the city, your risk of contracting an infectious disease is in most cases much lower than someone who will be staying in rural areas. This is because it is far more likely to encounter mosquitoes carrying Japanese encephalitis/dengue/zika, animal bites with rabies, as well as a whole host of other infectious disease risks in rural locations.
One more thing to take note of here is how long vaccinations take to work. Generally speaking, the normal immune response to vaccines takes around two weeks to work. This means you will not get immediate protection from a disease after immunization. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to get vaccinated ideally 4 to 6 weeks before you travel.
You’re getting vaccinated in Thailand
If you’re currently in Thailand and would like to get vaccinated here, there are a number of things you should be aware of. For starters, when choosing a clinic it’s important to look for one staffed by certified medical practitioners who specialize in tropical medicine and disease prevention.
Here are the key things you should take with you to ensure that your vaccination visit goes as smoothly as possible:
- Cash – Some medical centers do not accept credit cards. The same goes for direct billing (if you have private health insurance).
- Vaccination booklet
In terms of cost, most foreigners will find that vaccinations in Thailand can be significantly cheaper when compared to what they would be charged back home. That said, vaccinations at private facilities can be costly, especially if you’re getting more expensive types of inoculations like Japanese encephalitis or the Herpes Zoster vaccine. This is where having private health insurance with the vaccination benefit can really help with offsetting such costs.
You’re raising a child in Thailand
If you’re a parent or a caregiver raising a child, you can refer to the Thailand vaccination schedule as recommended by the Pediatric infectious diseases society of Thailand:
Source: Health Care Medical Clinic
Please bear in mind that baby vaccinations in Thailand can vary from other countries, as vaccination schedules are tailored to protect the population against country or region-specific health risks. As such you may also want to consider your home country’s immunization schedule.
What vaccinations do I need?
- Hepatitis A: Hepatitis A is a liver disease that is primarily spread from person-to-person via the fecal-oral route and through contaminated food or water (e.g. raw seafood or fruits/salads prepared by an infected person). Though the virus is present globally, hepatitis A circulates widely in areas with poor sanitation.
- Typhoid: This is an infectious disease that you can get through contaminated food and water. The typhoid vaccination is recommended especially if you are an adventurous eater, or staying in small/rural cities.
Based on where in the country you’re going, how long you’re staying, and what you will be doing here, it might also be a good idea to get the following vaccinations:
- Cholera: Primarily spread through contaminated food and water, cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe diarrhea. Due to higher rates of cholera transmission in certain areas, travelers are advised to get this vaccination.
- Hepatitis B: An infection that can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer, Hepatitis B is primarily spread through sexual contact, contaminated needles, and blood products. If you might have sex with a new partner, get a tattoo/piercing, or undergo a medical procedure, you should think about getting this vaccine.
- Japanese encephalitis: This is a serious mosquito-borne infection caused by a virus that can in some cases result in death or brain inflammation. Those that will be spending time in rural locations or a lot of time outdoors should consider this vaccine.
- Rabies: Transmitted from the bite or scratch of an infected animal, rabies is 100% fatal if left untreated. While rabies is not a major risk to most travelers, those that will be outdoors most of the time in remote locations, working with or around animals, or children who tend to play with animals should get the vaccine.
- Yellow fever: While there is no risk of yellow fever in Thailand, as mentioned above proof of yellow fever is required if you are arriving from a country in the “yellow fever zone”.
In addition to the CDC’s recommendations, you might also want to consider the dengue vaccination, which protects against the widespread mosquito-borne viral infection. If you’re getting the dengue vaccine in Thailand, please note that each shot costs about THB 2,000, and 3 rounds of injections are required.
Does your private health insurance cover vaccinations?
Vaccinations for Thailand can be expensive, which is why it’s worth checking if your private health insurance can pay for them. To find out whether you have vaccination coverage, look at your policy document – the vaccination benefit is typically listed under the outpatient cover section. What’s more, insurers will generally cap the coverage amount on this particular benefit, meaning the limit may not be high enough to reimburse you for all your vaccine expenses. You may also find that your policy is limited only to the types of vaccinations it covers.
Get in touch with Pacific Prime Thailand today
As a health insurance broker with over two decades of experience, Pacific Prime Thailand has unrivaled expertise in the healthcare and health insurance landscape in the country. Working with a large number of expats, we’ve also acquainted ourselves with the pain points of moving abroad, and make it a point to support globetrotters with accurate information regarding healthcare and health insurance.
A question we get asked very often from expats is whether they should access public or private healthcare for vaccinations in Thailand. Check out this guide that specifically looks at public vs. private healthcare sectors in the capital, Bangkok. If you’re interested in learning more about the health insurance industry in Thailand, you can also check our State of Health Insurance Report 2019-2020, which we publish annually.
Want to secure health insurance to cover vaccinations for Thailand? You’re also more than welcome to get in touch with us. Our advisors will give you impartial consultation and tailored plan comparison, to help you choose a plan that suits your needs and budgets. We also ensure you understand all the insurance jargon so that there are no surprises later on. The best part? You’ll get a whole host of services at no added cost to you versus going directly to the insurer.
Contact us today to learn more!
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