Pre-arrival - Vaccinations for the Philippines
4 to 8 weeks before you plan to go to the Philippines you should visit your doctor and arrange to have the necessary vaccinations and to discuss precautions you may need to take.
Hepatitis A and B - recommended for all travelers. Once you have had your first injection you are covered for 12 months, if you have a booster within this time you are covered for up to 25 years.
Typhoid - recommended if you plan on eating and drinking outside the major hotels and restaurants. One injection covers you for 3 years.
Tetanus / Diphtheria - Recommended for all travelers. If they haven’t been vaccinated within the past 10 years a booster may be needed.
Rabies - Only recommended if you’re planning on spending a lot of time in rural areas or undertaking activities that bring you into direct contact with bats. A series of injections starting 4 weeks prior to departure protect you for 5 years.
Malaria - Malaria is present in the Philippines but depending on what area you plan on living in you may not have to take medication. Check with your health-care provider before you travel.
Japanese Encephalitis - Recommended if you plan on staying in rural areas. A series of 3 injections will cover you for 2 years.
Yellow Fever - Not necessary unless you are arriving from a country with yellow fever present, in which case you will have to provide evidence of vaccination.
Dengue Fever - Dengue fever is transmitted by mosquitoes in the same way as malaria and Japanese encephalitius. There is no preventative medication for Dengue and symptoms are very similar to flu, if you develop flu-like symptoms and have been bitten by mosquitoes visit a doctor.
When moving to a foreign country, until you know what medications are available, it is a good idea to pack a basic first-aid kit. Most simple medications are readily available in all but the most rural areas of the Philippines. A basic kit should contain the following:
- Iodine for disinfecting wounds - infection sets in quickly in climates such as the Philippines’.
- Gauzes for compressing larger wounds
- Adhesives in various sizes for covering grazes and small wounds
- Elastic bandages of various sizes for supporting sprained joints
- Cotton wool
- Sterile syringes
- Paracetamol or ibuprofen
- Re-hydration salts
Though most of these things or their equivalent will be available as soon as you arrive, it gives peace of mind to know you are covered straight away.
Post arrival - Precautions when living in the Philippines
Moving to a new country especially if it is very different in climate and cuisine to your home country can be unsettling for your health. Common ailments people suffer from in the Philippines, especially in the first few months, include traveler’s diarrhea, flu, heat stroke and mosquito bites.
Diarrhea, especially in children and the elderly, can be dangerous. It’s important that the sufferer stays hydrated and takes suitable medication to slow the symptoms. If it is severe, there may be significant abdominal pain and fever and you should seek medical advice. Luckily most cases of traveler’s diarrhea are mild and pass within 24 hours.
Flu, or flu-like symptoms are quite common, especially with the air-conditioning that is present in all major buildings and probably in your accommodation. Prolonged contact with air-conditioned air can dry out your nasal passages and throat, causing your body to counteract this with excess mucus production. Be aware that air-conditioned rooms are often very dry without a humidifier, which you might find will help with cold symptoms.
Mosquito and other insect bites are common especially in rural areas, though the mosquito that carries Dengue fever prefers densely populated regions. It is highly recommended you use preventative measures, such as long sleeves and anti-insect repellent, particularly after dark. Often the infection that can occur from scratching the bite is worse than the original bite itself.