Find out the vaccinations that you need before you get to Cambodia, and the ones that you can get after you arrive.
It’s best to make sure that you are up to date on all of your regular vaccinations before coming to Cambodia. Polio, diphtheria, and tetanus are the standards. It doesn’t hurt to get a flu shot as well.
You can get a complete course of vaccinations in Phnom Penh for around $150, about 25 percent of what the same vaccinations would cost in London or New York. If your regular vaccinations are going to come due in the next few months, you can save quite a bit of money by waiting until you are in Cambodia to get them.
Other vaccinations that you should consider for Cambodia include the following:
Hepatitis A. This virus is spread through contaminated water and food, which Cambodia has in abundance. The vaccine requires a booster at 6 to 12 months, but you can get that in Cambodia if you haven’t finished the course before you leave your home country.
Hepatitis B. Although part of the Kingdom’s national immunization program, hepatitis B is nevertheless very common in Cambodia. HBV vaccine is therefore a must before coming, especially for kids or if you plan to have any medical procedures, tattoos, or unprotected sex with the locals. It requires three injections over a 6-month period, at 0, 1 and 6 months. A vaccine preparation combined with hepatitis A is available.
Typhoid. Also spread through contaminated food and water, typhoid is common in Cambodia, particularly in rural areas. Though a serious illness, it is treatable. Nevertheless, vaccination is strongly recommended before your trip to Cambodia or once you arrive if you intend to spend much time there or visit rural areas.
Japanese encephalitis. Caused by a mosquito-borne virus with animal vectors and most commonly spread near pigs, this is the disease whose vaccine seems to be the most favored choice of those who like to get a lot of vaccinations. There is no treatment for Japanese encephalitis, but the prevalence of Japanese encephalitis is low in Cambodia. Cases do occur on a regular basis, though, and and the vaccine is recommended for those who will be spending extended periods of time in rural areas.
Rabies. Spread by bites from rabid animals, rabies is always fatal if untreated. It’s most often recommended for those who are going to be far from medical care–if you plan to be anywhere where you will be more than 24 hours from a decent hospital, you should consider getting a rabies shot. Even if you get the vaccination, you’ll still need to seek medical care, so many cost-sensitive travelers choose to skip the vaccination and take their chances.
Anti-malaria medication. You do not need to take anti-malarial medications in Cambodian cities. However, if you are traveling near forested areas, it’s best to take them as a precaution. Doxycycline or Malarone are the recommended drugs of choice, and they can be purchased at U-Care Pharmacy in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap or at Pharmacie De La Gare on Monivong Boulevard in Phnom Penh. With or without it, always practice good mosquito protection.
If you’re already in Cambodia, you can get your vaccinations much cheaper here. We have a list of reliable places to get vaccinated.
This is an excerpt from Move to Cambodia: A guide to living and working in the Kingdom of Wonder. To learn more about 100+ topics that pertain to Cambodia expats, please consider buying the book.