Vaccination is an important method of preventing infection by a range of bugs. As different regions have different endemic diseases, it’s important to know what vaccines you need to get.
Are you making a trip to somewhere exotic?
Make sure that you research the vaccinations required for the region that you will be visiting. Stay abreast of such information by consulting the travel advisories listed on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). Singaporeans are also strongly encouraged to eRegister on the website so that you can be contacted should the need arise.
It is best that you seek the advice of your family doctor on the recommended or required vaccinations based on the country you intend to visit as well as your health condition. And give yourself plenty of time, as vaccines need time to impart immunity. The Singapore General Hospital recommends that you get vaccinated four to six weeks before you travel.
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Note that it is possible for at-risk countries to be cleared of diseases over time. Travellers should regularly refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for such updates.
According to Dr Raymond Choy, Deputy Physician Leader at Raffles Medical, vaccines may not be 100% effective in all individuals due to drug resistance, but they produce immunity at least 90% of the time. As such, additional precautions should be taken. For example, when travelling to malaria-endemic regions, you should consider wearing long-sleeved shirts and applying mosquito repellent.
While malaria vaccination is not compulsory, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends vaccination for travellers to regions where cases have been reported, such as Africa, South America and Asia. Risk levels differ from the urban areas to the rural hilly and forested zones. For example, the Thai capital of Bangkok poses no risk of malaria, while cases have been reported in areas of Thailand bordering Cambodia and Myanmar.
Points of entry and origin
Apart from your point of entry, your point of origin matters, too. Some countries such as Malaysia and Singapore require a vaccination certificate if you have travelled to a country listed by the WHO as a yellow fever-endemic country or if you were in transit for more than 12 hours in an airport in these countries — you may be denied entry to these countries should you fail to do so.