Travel Vaccinations for Singaporeans: Vaccine Types and Where To Get Them

Update:The vaccinations below were recommended for travel in a regular climate. Due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, there are new travel advisories and guidelines to safeguard yourself. Please check the World Health Organization and the Singapore Ministry of Health for up-to-date advice and travel restrictions on the evolving situation.

When it comes to planning an exciting trip, getting a travel vaccination is probably the furthest thing from your mind. People don’t normally give their vaccination records a second glance when they’re excited about a vacation! However, with the recent viral outbreaks that have been occurring all over the world, it’s better to be safe than sorry! You wouldn’t want to get sick while on vacation, would you?

But first, you might be wondering…

Do I really need travel vaccinations?

Visiting another country can put you at risk of getting infected with diseases not normally present in Singapore. This is why getting vaccinated against certain diseases is one of the best ways to protect yourself while travelling abroad.

What are the recommended travel vaccinations?

The types of travel vaccinations you will need will depend on the country or region that you will be travelling to. These vaccinations are recommendations from Singapore General Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Though not legally required for entry, these vaccines will protect you from the risk of immediate contraction of certain illnesses. They will also help prevent the spread of diseases from one country to another.

If you’re travelling to China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia

Recommended vaccinations: Routine vaccinations, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Influenza, Japanese Encephalitis*, Rabies* (highly recommended), Typhoid, Anti-malarial medications*

 Credit: Macau Photo Agency / Unsplash

If you didn’t already know, China is ground zero for the 2019-nCoV outbreak (now called COVID-19). There are currently no vaccines for the virus. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to it. Because of this, there have been tighter China travel restrictions in countries all over the world. The CDC also recommends travellers to avoid nonessential travel to China.

Currently, there are also polio outbreaks in several countries in Asia and a global measles outbreak has also been announced. As such, the CDC has also highly recommended travellers going to Southeast Asia to be fully vaccinated against polio and measles. This is especially true if you are travelling with infants and children.

If you’re travelling to South America

Recommended vaccinations: Routine vaccinations, Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Influenza, Japanese Encephalitis*, Rabies* (highly recommended), Typhoid, Anti-malarial medications*

 Credit: sergio souza / Unsplash

The yellow fever vaccine may be required for travel to certain parts of South America and Africa. This is because this viral infection can be transmitted through a bite from infected mosquitoes in these two regions. It’s also highly recommended to get a rabies vaccination before visiting any countries in South America. This is particularly true if you will be taking part in outdoor activities in remote areas.

If you’re travelling to Africa

Recommended vaccinations: Routine vaccinations, Yellow Fever*, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Influenza, Rabies* (highly recommended), Typhoid, Anti-malarial medications*

 Credit: Annie Spratt / Unsplash

When travelling to Africa, anti-malaria medications are a must. This is because 92% of global malaria cases are in the WHO African Region. This approximates to 200 million cases. You may need to take prescription medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent malaria. Travellers are advised to wear long-sleeved clothing and long trousers, especially after sunset. Using insect repellents on exposed skin is also highly encouraged.

If you’re travelling to Saudi Arabia

Recommended vaccinations: Routine vaccinations, Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, Influenza (highly recommended), Meningococcal* (recommended), Rabies*, Anti-malarial medications*, Yellow Fever

 Credit: Adli Wahid / Unsplash

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has a meningococcal vaccine requirement during the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. KSA requires proof of vaccination as part of the hajj and umrah visa application process. Aside from meningococcal vaccine, yellow fever vaccine is also required for anyone arriving from a yellow fever-endemic country.

Note: Routine vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.

*Risk depends on the area of travel in the country

Where can I get travel vaccinations in Singapore and how much do they cost?

Public Hospitals: Most Affordable

Public hospitals offer vaccinations at a lower cost compared to polyclinics and private hospitals. They also offer a wider range of vaccinations compared to polyclinics. Most public hospitals in Singapore have a travel clinic where you can get travel vaccinations. However, these travel clinics are only open during regular office hours so you can drop by during your lunch break.

Approximate Cost of Travel Vaccinations (excluding consultation fees):

    • Hepatitis A (2 doses) – $85 to $136
    • Hepatitis B (3 doses) – $75 to $186
    • Influenza (1 dose) – $35 to $38
    • Japanese Encephalitis (1-2 doses) – $240 to $760
    • Meningococcal (1 dose) – $72 to $100
    • Rabies (3-5 doses) – $480 to $1140
    • Typhoid (1 dose) – $18 to $40
    • Yellow Fever (1 dose) – $140 to $198

Polyclinics: Most Convenient

Polyclinics are generally considered the more convenient option as they are situated close to residential neighbourhoods. However, the availability of vaccines is limited compared to hospitals. Influenza vaccines tend to run out of stock during the holiday season when everyone is getting ready to travel. It is important to know that polyclinics tend to close earlier than regular office hours and have a lunch break in between. Vaccine prices at polyclinics are also the same as long as they belong to the same group of polyclinics.

Approximate Cost of Travel Vaccinations (excluding consultation fees):

      • Hepatitis A (2 doses) – $160 to $175
      • Hepatitis B (3 doses) – $90 to $120
      • Influenza (1 dose) – $32 to $34
      • Meningococcal (1 dose) – $71 to $76
      • Typhoid (1 dose) – $28 to $30

Private Clinics/Hospitals: Most Expensive

Private clinics/hospitals are your best bet if both public hospitals and polyclinics are closed. Private hospitals tend to carry more vaccines than private clinics. They are generally conveniently-located at high-traffic locations and near residential areas. They’re also good for when you can’t visit public hospitals and polyclinics during regular office hours. Compared to both public hospitals and polyclinics, however, they’re generally more expensive.

Approximate Cost of Travel Vaccinations (excluding consultation fees):

        • Hepatitis A (2 doses) – $156 to $232
        • Hepatitis B (3 doses) – $102 to $125
        • Influenza (1 dose) – $28 to $35
        • Japanese Encephalitis (1-2 doses) – $45 to $90
        • Meningococcal (1 dose) – $100 to $138
        • Rabies (3-5 doses) – $507 to $1066
        • Typhoid (1 dose) – $35 to $36
        • Yellow Fever (1 dose) – $200 to $206

How can I pay for my travel vaccines?

For Singaporeans, you can use up to $500 from your MediSave account (under the new MediSave500 scheme) to pay for approved vaccinations each year. Approved vaccinations include the 7 types of vaccines covered by the National Adult Immunisation Schedule (NAIS).

Unfortunately, most travel vaccines are not covered by MediSave500. Unless your insurance provider covers it, you’ll need to pay for it yourself. One exception is the flu shot which is given to those considered to be of higher risk such as those over 65 years of age, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses.

How far ahead should I get my travel vaccines?

Many travel immunisations need to be given in a series of shots given over a period of days or weeks. Vaccines also take some time to work. This is why you should wait until the last minute to get vaccinated. Travel health experts recommend getting your shots at least 4 to 6 weeks before your scheduled trip.

The bottom line

When it comes to travelling, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Regardless of where you’re going, it’s best to have your vaccination records updated. It is also important to note that travel vaccinations are not “one size fits all”. The risk profile of each traveller will vary depending on your travel behaviour. The area of the country you’re going to and the activities you’ll be doing can increase or decrease your risk. That’s why we encourage you to see your healthcare provider before embarking on a trip!