Do You Need A Vaccination for Visiting Penang?
The standard of health and medical care in Penang is generally very high. If you are coming to Penang from Africa or South America, or have been to either of these continents in the past three months before coming to Penang, you are required to show proof of vaccination against yellow fever. Other than that, the World Health Organisation recommends the following vaccination if you are planning to visit Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei - so that includes coming to Penang:
- Adult diphtheria and tetanus
Get a booster shot if you haven't gotten one in the last ten years. This will result in sore arms and a slight fever.
- Hepatitis A
The first jab will offer you almost 100% protection for up to a year, thereafter a booster shot after 12 months will give you protection for up to the next 20 years. Side effects include sore arms and headache.
- Hepatitis B
This is administered as three shots spread over six months. It's a jab that you should get if you are traveling anywhere at all. It's also available combined with Hepatitis A vaccination. For 95% of people, one jab is enough for the rest of your life.
- Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
If you never had these before, then two doses of MMR is recommended - the side effects may cause you to develop a rash and some flu-like symptoms.
No polio cases in Penang (or for that matter, Southeast Asia) since 2002.
If you are visiting the countryside, then this would be recommended. If you're staying less than a week and will only be in the city area, then you can fore-go it.
If you are coming to Penang to live and work, these are some of the injections you may want to consider taking.
- Japanese B encephalitis
A set of three injections, giving you the side effects of sore arm and headache but rarely any allergic reaction. Booster jabs are recommended after two years.
Recommended if you are going to be backpacking and you are under the age of 25. A single injection is usually good for 2-3 years.
I haven't heard of anybody getting rabies in Penang, but if you are going to explore far and wide, get this vaccination, which comprises three injections.
If you're an adult, you should get a tuberculosis skin test before and after your travel, rather than a vaccination. Children should get the vaccination which will last the lifetime.
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