Okay, I know…lame title, but seriously! It hadn’t even crossed my mind that moving to Korea equalled multiple vaccinations and booster shots. Now, I’m the kind of gal who doesn’t go out and get a flu shot every year. I’m both highly petrified of needles, and am known for getting myself worked up to the point of tears over the idea. This does not bode well for people with needle phobias.
A quick call to the International Travel Clinic in my city bought me a $70 appointment to see a nurse consultation for which vaccinations I would need. Now, I actually had a great nurse! She was very informative and patient with me (I am not the easiest person to deal with when it comes to pointy objects getting slammed into my arm flesh). When she asked why I don’t get an annual flu shot and I replied with shaky hands that I had a fear of needles, she kindly offered me an orange juice box. Did this make me feel like a child? Yes. Was it also awesome? A resounding yes!
For anyone moving to Korea for an extended amount of time, these are the vaccinations that you will require:
Hepatitis B (only if you are due for a booster)
Tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis – only if you haven’t had a tetanus shot in the last 10 years….sadly I was over due for a booster 😦
Japanese encephalitis – this is found mostly in the southern provinces of Korea, from May to October. They do not recommend it if you are only going to be in urban areas or short visits to rural zones.
Rabies – again, not a huge risk…highest zones are in the 강원도(Kangwon Province) and 경기도 (Kyonggi Province). Biggest risks are bats and dogs. Now I didn’t get one of these, but the nurse offered a helpful piece of advice. The minute you are bitten (by either dog or bat), scrub out the bite wound roughly with soap. If the animal does have the rabies virus, doing this significantly decreases the amount that will enter your blood stream. (She recommend walking with a small scrub brush in my bag.) After that, go immediately to the docter and ask them to treat it as if the animal did have rabies (because you won’t always know).
Influenza – this is your annual flu shot.
Lastly, this one is completely “you’re own choice”, malaria. Now, again, I did not take any malaria drugs. The area of Korea that I will be staying in does not have a risk of malaria and I did not think it was necessary. However if you plan to visit North Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, or the Philippines, anti-malaria drugs were strongly recommended.
Here is a map of Korea with areas that have malaria invested mosquitoes:
*NOTE* Please make note that even though the checked area does potentially have malaria, the drugs are only recommend for certain travellers.
So there you have it…the list of shots you will need to get to live in Korea. I was lucky. I got five different vaccinations/boosters, but only had to pay for two of them (Hep A and Typhoid). The other three were covered by my provincial heath coverage. When you get your Hepatitis A and Typhoid shots, they will probably have two vaccinations available in only one needle (i.e. five vaccinations in only four shots!). It is also a little bit cheaper this way too, so that can be kept in mind.
It’s officially less than a month until I’m in Korea!! I’ve purchased my power cable adapters… my visa has arrived in the mail:
And I found a lovely luggage tag of whom I have dubbed: Oliver ^^ (Oli for short)
Till next time!