Do You Need Vaccinations Before Leaving to Teach in Thailand?

vaccinations for teaching thailand
copyright National Cancer Institute – Public Domain

Do You Need Vaccinations Before Leaving to Teach in Thailand?

When I moved to  Bangkok,Thailand to teach English a decade ago, I didn’t get vaccinated for anything. That’s because I was teaching in Bangkok, a city that is not usually a thriving metropolis for malaria or dengue fever (although dengue fever can be caught in Bangkok, it is still rare most years).

If you are moving to Thailand to teach English, however, depending on where in the country you will be teaching, you may need to be vaccinated with one, two or more vaccines before you leave.

Here are a few things to think about as far as which vaccines you may need before teaching in Thailand and if indeed you need them.

Make sure your routine vaccinations are up to date – While you may not need a vaccination for yellow fever, dengue fever, malaria or polio before you leave to teach in Thailand, you should make sure your routine vaccinations are up to date before you leave.

That is vaccinations for diseases like influenza, measles, diptheria, chickenpox, polio and tetanus. You can find out which vaccinations you should probably have on the CDC Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule, and then check with your doctor as to which vaccinations he recommends.

Where will you be teaching? – Although I didn’t have extra vaccinations against any diseases before I left for Thailand, other than the routine vaccinations I always have, that’s because I knew I was going to spend the vast majority of my time in Bangkok and not upcountry in a more rural area or in the Thai jungle.

If I had been teaching at a Thai school in a more out of the way rural spot, however, chances are I would probably have decided to be vaccinated against malaria as this is a risk from mosquito bites and is recommended by the CDC.

What’s your general health like? – If you are healthy and have no existing health conditions, you may decide not to have elective vaccinations before you leave. If, however, you already have existing health conditions and a bout of the flu or measles could be very serious, make sure you are vaccinated before you leave.

Remember as well, doctors don’t recommend certain vaccines if you have pre-existing conditions like diabetes, asthma, an immunodeficiency, or have had a past allergic reaction to a particular vaccine. Again, check with your doctor as to those vaccines he suggests you avoid.

Where else will you be traveling? – Just because you will be teaching in Bangkok, Thailand, it doesn’t mean you won’t be traveling to more isolated towns or be leaving Thailand completely and traveling to other countries on three-day weekends or holidays.

Think about the countries you could feasibly visit while you are abroad teaching, and make sure you check on any vaccinations recommended for those as well.

Your school will not cover the cost of vaccinations – Do remember, while your school will often cover the cost of work permits, visas, airfares and, in rare cases, apartments, it’s highly unlikely they will cover the cost of any vaccinations you decide to get. So make sure you factor that cost into your budget when you’re planning your trip.