Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Vaccines for travelers

Vaccines for travelers have become all the more important with so many nasty bugs and other communicable diseases out there. Last year I was downed by the flu virus (said to be extra nasty in 2008) for almost two weeks! So this year, I decided to get the proper immunization to prevent these inconveniences. In fact, there are several recommended vaccines for frequent travelers. But of course, these vaccines are not just beneficial for travelers but everyone in general.

Influenza, commonly called the flu or trangkaso, is a contagious viral disease. Vaccination for influenza should be done annually since the different strains mutate regularly. Remember that flu vaccines are valid only for the year they are released. So as soon as the latest annual flu vaccine is out, even if you just got vaccinated a few months back, you'll need to go back to your doctor for the new shots. The best time to get the flu vaccine is between February to June to prepare for the rainy season and cold months which is flu season.

Typhoid fever or typhoid is caused by the bacterium Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi. If you're a fan of street food, the typhoid vaccine is for you. It is transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacteria. Typhoid is characterized by a sustained fever as high as 40 °C, profuse sweating, gastroenteritis, and non-bloody diarrhea. Typhoid is strongly endemic in the Philippines meaning it's very common here.

Meningococcal disease is a serious illness caused by a viral or bacterial infection. The bacteria are spread through the exchange of respiratory and throat secretions (i.e. coughing, kissing). Meningitis is an infection of fluid surrounding the brain and the spinal cord. Meningococcal vaccine is sometimes required for college freshmen living in dormitories in the U.S. as well as U.S. military recruits. It's recommended for travelers, especially backpackers, who frequent dormitories and hostels or common places in general such as congested markets and crowded areas, especially in South America and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Cholera is an infectious gastroenteritis caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. Just like typhoid, transmission happens through eating food or drinking water contaminated with the bacteria. So again, if you're visiting a country known to have cholera and can't live without trying the local food, then make sure you get shots. Incidences of cholera increase as a result of floods.

Hepatitis A is an acute infectious disease of the liver caused by the Hepatitis A virus. Another virus commonly transmitted by ingestion of contaminated food or drinking water, vaccine is a must for frequent travelers.

Update (03/18/2013): Here is information on yellow fever vaccination.

Here in the Philippines, there are clinics which specialize in preventive medicine. This afternoon, I was at Immunizers, a medical clinic for vaccination services, to get my flu shots. I also had a blood test to determine whether I still need vaccination for Hepatitis and I'll know the results tomorrow. If you're a frequent traveler, it might be convenient for you to get vaccinated. It's better to be safe than sorry while on a trip. Always remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

226 Wilson St., Greenhills, San Juan
(02) 7445552 / 7445553
Jupiter St., Makati City
(02) 4828540


  1. Anonymous22.1.09

    Thanks for this post Ivan! I think I'll pay them a visit one of these days. How much do the shots cost?

  2. At magkano naman lahat yan?

  3. Hi Nina and Alex!

    1. The flu shots are P1000, but they're giving it at 20% off until March.
    2. Typhoid vaccine is P1500 and good for 3 yrs.
    3. Hepa A is P2700 per dose and you'll need 2 doses. That's good for 5 to 10 yrs.
    4. Hepa B is P1250 per dose and you'll need 3 doses. That's good for 5 to 10 yrs as well.
    5. Not too vital for local travel is cholera. It's P2100 every 2 years. And you'll need 2 doses.
    6. Finally, meningococcal vaccine P1900 and you'll need shots every 3 years.

    I got the flu vaccine yesterday and a blood test to check if I still need Hepa A vaccine and B booster. Except for typhoid which is strongly endemic here, the others can wait until I go to Africa or South America. And if one does go there, it will do well to get yellow fever vaccine too. I got a shot in 2002 so I'm okay until 2012. Hehe!

  4. hey ivan, thanks for the very informative post. i got most of the vaccines listed above last year for a fraction of the price at the UP infirmary. :) wala lang might help some of your readers on a budget.

  5. I could imagine since government hospitals offer many services at a subsidy or at cost. I always get my regular blood tests at UP PGH since it's much cheaper. But I have to ask favors from people I know there to get me the needed requests.

  6. I strongly agree to vaccinations prior to travel. And if I may add, one can also consider a booster shot of Tetanus (otherwise known as lockjaw) which occurs when a wound gets infected by a bacteria called Clostridium Tetani living in the soil.
    I also received Yellow Fever vaccination for travel to the Peruvian Amazon which should be good in other endemic areas as well.
    There's a lot of travel-related health stuff that can be discussed but the bottom line is always prevention.

  7. hi Ivan, very informative post :)

    We're planning on travelling to Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia this August,

    was wondering if Flu, Cholera and Typhoid vaccines enough for these countries?

  8. hi ivan, a am ms. jiji crucillo, i am the general manager of livecare vaccination and treatment clinic. Our clinics renders adult vaccination too, at very low and affordable price. We are located 1110 Pablo Ocampo st. Malate Mla. We also give anti rabies vaccinatio prophylaxis for human. I would highly appreciate you will also promote our clinic. thanks and God bless.

  9. Anonymous13.2.10

    hi, magkano magpa-blood test?

  10. guy day, magkano ho ang yellow fever vaccine? seaman ho ako, good for how many years po yan? thanks....

  11. First of all thank you for this very informative post. We will be going to Philippines for the first time next month (July). I know about the flu & typhoid fever vaccines, but questionable about giving our kids the hepatitis vaccine. I was wondering how common meningitis, cholera & hepatitis are in the Philippines?

  12. Anonymous15.11.11

    anyone here know ehere ca i have my yellow fever vaccine???

  13. Anonymous25.1.12

    someone wanna share the cheapest clinic or hospital in town where i can get these travel vaccination. i need to complete everything atleast before feb2012 ends. thanks


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