IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers| IAMAT |International Association of Medical Assistance to Travellers|

Travel Health Journal


Understanding and prioritizing selective vaccines

This is Part 3 of our Travel Vaccines on a Budget series. See Part 1 and Part 2.

Selective travel vaccinations are specific to your destination, trip duration and itinerary, and type of travel. The more you plan ahead and have a specific itinerary, the more your healthcare provider can help you prioritize vaccines.

Typhoid Fever

This vaccine comes in an oral live version which lasts 5-7 years or an inactivated injectable one that lasts 2-3 years. Long term travellers, adventure travellers, and those visiting friends or relatives in areas of poor sanitation are at higher risk. It’s recommended if you’re going to Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and parts of South America.

More about Typhoid Fever risk areas and prevention

Average cost of Typhoid vaccines (oral 4 pills or inactivated 1 dose): $50

Japanese Encephalitis

This vaccine is the most expensive one on the market. It’s recommended for travellers going on a long term trip to rural areas of Southeast Asia, especially if visiting or working in agricultural areas. The vaccine available in North America is a series of two shots, given 28 days apart and lasts for about 1-2 years.

More about Japanese Encephalitis risk areas and prevention

Average cost of Japanese Encephalitis vaccine (2 doses): $220 / dose


This vaccine also has a reputation for being very expensive. Pre-exposure vaccine (3 shots) are recommended for travellers going on a long term trip in areas where rabies is endemic (including children, who are vulnerable to animal bites). Having pre-exposure shots buys you more time to seek medical care and get the 2 additional post-exposure shots.

If you don’t get the pre-exposure shots and are bitten, you’ll have to get Rabies Immune Globulin (RIG) injected in the wound site. Note that RIG is very short supply worldwide, putting you at greater risk. If you do get the pre-exposure shots, you do not need RIG.

More on Rabies risk areas and prevention

Average cost of Rabies pre-exposure vaccine (3 doses): $200 / dose

Meningococcal Meningitis

If you’re going to a country in the African Meningitis Belt (the semi-arid area of sub-Saharan Africa that extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea), or a country with a current outbreak, for a long term trip or on a working assignment in the healthcare or education fields, this vaccine is recommended for you. It protects you against the 4 bacterial serotypes A, C, Y, and W135 for about 3-5 years.

More on Meningococcal Meningitis risk areas and prevention

Average cost of Meningococcal Meningitis vaccine (1 dose): $145

Vaccination is not only about protecting yourself, it’s about protecting others around you who are more susceptible to getting sick, who can’t get vaccinated, or who don’t have access to vaccinations in the countries you visit. While travel vaccines can be expensive, you can start by prioritizing and eventually save enough money to get vaccinated against all the vaccine-preventable diseases that you may encounter on future trips.

Photo courtesy of Brian Hoskins, freeimages.