Bali is the ultimate get away from London! Two flights and 22 hours later you will land at Denpasar Airport, Bali: “The Last Paradise In The World”. You’ve seen the photos of this island in Indonesia all over Instagram, the videos on YouTube and the 101 guides on Pinterest. Before you dive in, pull yourself away from the promises of beauty and the fantasy of sheer escape. Tourists. That’s right. I’m talking to you! This article is a Travel Health reality check! I’ve been to Bali and it is gorgeous. But I definitely need to make you aware of preventable Travel Health Risks when travelling to Bali. This will be a multi-article, clear-cut, no-nonsense series culminating in the ultimate Travel Health Bali guide. Here I will focus on only the vaccines you need as a healthy adult and why.
What Vaccines Do I Need For Bali?
If you’re not a seasoned traveler you will more than likely need to consider this whole lot! So make sure you get to a travel clinic at least 8 weeks before your planned departure date. And if you are a seasoned traveler, you might need to consider a few top ups or boosters of these vaccines. The 8 weeks will allow for ample recovery time between vaccines and also allow your body to develop that all-important wall of defense: your immune system. Try your best to NOT be a last minute traveler. Even if you are, don’t fret – all of these vaccines can be given at short notice if needed. Your arm(s) might be sore before the flight though. You have been warned!
Before we begin here is a gentle reminder (disclaimer) that, although I am a Travel Health Pharmacist, this article is not a replacement or substitute for Professional Healthcare Advice from a Travel Clinic. This is a guide for Healthy Adults (18 years and over). Adults who are pregnant, breastfeeding, currently taking short-term or long-term medication or those who may have underlying health issues must seek independent Professional Health Advice before travelling. This article also assumes you have completed your childhood vaccinations program in the UK – these include Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) and Tuberculosis (TB). Two MMR vaccines are required for lifelong protection from Measles, Mumps and Rubella. Only one BCG vaccine is required for lifelong protection from TB.
1. Diptheria, Tetanus & Polio Vaccine
- Three-in-One Injection
- Get a booster every 10 years
I know what you’re thinking – you’ve had this three-in-one vaccine before! Well, you’re absolutely right! You should have got a booster when you were in Secondary School in the UK at around age 13 or 14. This vaccine, commonly referred to as “DTP” or “Revaxis”, covers you for a maximum of 10 years. That means, yes, you guessed it, you will more than likely need a booster shot. Your new booster vaccine will last the next 10 years. You need DTP vaccine to travel everywhere in the world anyway. Well worth the investment!
2. Typhoid Vaccine
- One Injection OR Course of Oral Capsules
- Get a booster every 3 years
Thinking about that ice clinking in your drink while you lounge by the beach? Do you know how the ice was made? You probably won’t know so it’s best to avoid ice in your drinks. Go for chilled drinks with lids that have been opened in front of you to avoid ingesting contaminated water. Typhoid is one such contaminant you don’t want to encounter. Unfortunately its very common and underreported on holiday as its often confused with food poisoning. Bottled water is king in Bali as you cannot drink the tap water!
3. Hepatitis A Vaccine
- One to Two Injections
- Get a booster every 25 years
Food is often prepared with bare hands – and your meal might be contaminated with Hepatitis A! Eat piping hot food and avoid raw salads or fruits that can’t be peeled.
4. Hepatitis B Vaccine
- One to Four Injections
- Get a booster every 5 years
Getting a tattoo to commemorate your holiday in Bali? You might be at risk of Hepatitis B if they don’t use sterile needles. Don’t share your room mate’s razor either – Hepatitis B is carried in blood and can be passed through cutting yourself with that blade! High risk activities might lead to accidents – think twice before riding that moped!
5. Rabies Vaccine
- One to Three Injections
- Get a booster every 1 to 10 years
A lot of stray dogs and cats carry rabies in Bali. Adorable as they might seem, don’t pet or approach any animals you see. This includes feeding monkeys or exploring bat caves! Read this article for good measure, in case you get bitten.
A short video from our honeymoon in Bali, Candidasa, 2019
6. Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine
- One to Two Injections
- Get a booster every 2 to 5 years
Mosquitoes spread Japanese Encephalitis when they bite you. You can’t tell which mosquitoes are carrying japanese encephalitis – you don’t want to end up paralysed – remember it only takes one bite!
7. Meningitis ACWY Vaccine
- Four-in-One Injection
- Get a booster every 5 years
Bacterial Meningitis can kill! Met a new love interest abroad? You won’t want to kiss them without this vaccine. 10% of humans carry meningitis in the back of their throat! If you inhale the droplets of someone who has coughed or sneezed you could catch meningitis.
8. Cholera Vaccine
- Two drinks
- Get a booster every 2 years
Like Typhoid, Cholera is very common and underreported on holiday as its often confused with food poisoning. Dirty water is not uncommon in Bali. Once again don’t drink the tap water and stick to bottled water.
9. Flu Vaccine
- One Injection
- Get a booster every year
The flu virus changes every year. The flu vaccine aims to predict these changes and is definitely worth having if you are travelling during September to March. Especially as you’ll have travelled on a plane for over 20 hours!