Vaccinations for Vietnam: What you should know before you go

TransferWise content team
26.07.18
4 minute read

Vietnam is a beautifully tropical country filled with some of the warmest and friendliest people you’ll ever meet. From the chaotic streets of Hanoi to the tranquil rice fields of Sapa, it’s a country well worth traveling extensively. However, before you go, there are some steps you should take to make sure you’ll stay healthy enough to explore every corner of Vietnam. Read on to learn about the vaccinations you should consider before visiting.

Immunizations, shots, vaccinations, is there a difference? What are they really?

Immunizations, shots and vaccinations are all different terms to describe the same basic process. They’re all used to describe substances that are introduced to your body, usually via an injections, but sometimes orally, in order to encourage your body to start producing antibodies that will give you immunity against a disease.

Why should I get vaccinated if I’m travelling?

Travelling exposes you to diseases that may not exist in your home country, and getting vaccinated for them before you go to areas where they’re common can help prevent you from getting sick. For example, in the United States, malaria is almost nonexistent. But in many more tropical parts of the world, it's a common illness that can make you extremely sick. Luckily, there’s a vaccine that will protect you from contracting it, should you travel from the US to a part of the world where malaria exists. Almost every country has recommended vaccinations that travelers should get, and some even have required shots that you’ll have to show proof of before being allowed into the country.

What are some recent disease or virus outbreaks in Vietnam or Southeast Asia that I should be prepared for?

In Vietnam, there’s currently an active outbreak of Dengue fever, an infection spread by mosquitoes. Currently there’s no vaccine for Dengue fever, so you’ll want to protect yourself with other measures instead. Some steps you can take are to stay away from rural areas where mosquito activity is high, use mosquito netting on your windows and over your bed at night, and use bug spray on your skin and clothing to prevent bites.

Zika virus is also a risk in Vietnam, though less so than in some other parts of the world. For this reason, it's not recommended that pregnant women travel to Vietnam, and all travelers should take steps to avoid mosquito bites while they’re in the country.

Vietnam is also seeing notable rabies activity. Rabies is a preventable virus spread by bites from mammals, usually rodents, bats, cats and dogs. Preventative rabies vaccines are available, but if you're bitten by an animal suspected of being infected, you can receive the vaccines retroactively, as well.

Japanese encephalitis is on the rise in Vietnam, particularly in warmer, rural areas where mosquitoes are most common, but it can be prevented with a vaccine.

When should I get vaccinated?

Some vaccinations need a certain amount of time to become fully effective, so it’s recommended that you consult with a doctor, nurse practitioner or travel clinic 6-8 weeks before your trip. They’ll help you set a schedule based on what vaccines you already have, which ones you need to get, and how long they take to become fully effective.

If I travel to Vietnam, what vaccinations and shots are required or do I need?

Vietnam only requires a yellow fever vaccine if a traveler is coming from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission. No other vaccines are required to enter Vietnam. However, there are a number of vaccines that are highly recommended for some or all travelers. Ultimately, you should speak to your doctor to find out exactly what vaccines are recommended for your lifestyle and travel plans. Only a medical professional will be able to make the final, most comprehensive call about what shots you need.

Vaccine / shotRequired for Americans, British or Australians?Recommended for whom?
Routine vaccinesNoAll travelers
Hepatitis ANoMost travelers
Hepatitis BNoThose who may be exposed to bodily fluids
Japanese EncephalitisNoLong-term travelers who are staying for more than a month. Travelers who are visiting rural areas of Vietnam
MalariaNoFew travelers. Anti-malarial pills are generally recommended instead.
RabiesNoTravelers who plan on a lot of outdoor activities where they may come into contact with animals. Long-term travelers. Children.
TyphoidNoMost travelers
Yellow FeverSometimesTravelers who are coming from or going to countries that have risk of yellow fever transmission (Parts of Africa and South America)

When is the best time to travel to Vietnam?

Most of Vietnam stays temperate year-round, so there’s no particular time that's better than others to visit with lower risk of contracting an illness. There’s a slightly lower incidence of mosquito-transmitted diseases during the winter months, from November to March. However, if you plan on visiting rural areas of the country (and you should, because they’re beautiful), mosquitoes are always common and you should always take steps to protect yourself against their bites and the diseases they transmit.

What if I get sick while I’m in Vietnam? Who do I call for an emergency?

If you have a medical emergency in Vietnam, use country code +84 and the following numbers to call for emergency assistance:

  • Police: 113
  • Fire: 114
  • Ambulance – First Aid: 115

You can also directly call a hospital, as most ambulance services in Vietnam are run by the hospitals and not a separate agency. English speaking hospitals in some of the larger cities in Vietnam are:

Hanoi

International SOS

Address: 51 Xuan Dieu

Tel: (84-4) 3934 0666

Vietnam International Hospital

Address: Phuong Mai Road, Dong Da, Hanoi

Tel: (84-4) 3574 0740

Da Nang

Danang Family Medical Practice

Address: 50-52 Nguyen Van Linh, Nam Duong Ward, Hai Chau Dist

Tel: (84-511) 358 2699

Email: danang@vietnammedicalpractice.com

Ho Chi Minh City

International SOS

Address: 167 A Nam Ky, Khoi Nghia, Dist 3

Tel: (84-8) 3829 8424 – 3829 8520

Columbia Asia Saigon

Address: 8 Alexandre de Rhodes, Dist 1

Tel: (84-8) 3823 8888

Now that you know how to protect yourself and stay healthy in Vietnam, the country is just waiting for you to explore. Safe travels!

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