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Health Risks, Inoculations, Vaccinations and Health Certificates

Singapore - Health Risks, Inoculations, Vaccinations and Health Certificates

Singapore is generally considered a safe place to visit, but there might be some precautions you should take before commencing on your travels and after you arrive.

To get the most benefits out of any vaccinations, you should have them at least 4 weeks before your departure to Singapore. The Center for Disease Control suggests that you visit a healthcare provider who has experience in Travel Medicine, although you can certainly visit your general practitioner, too.

Routine vaccinations should be up-to-date before you leave. These include immunizations for polio, influenza, chickenpox (or varicella), measles/mumps/rubella (MMR), and diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus (DPT). You should also update your Hepatitis A vaccine or get one if you’ve never had one before.

The Hepatitis A vaccine should be given at least 2 weeks before departure. To continue immunity, a booster should be given 6-12 months later. The side-effects are usually mild. People with chronic liver disease or those who have compromised immune systems should get a single intramuscular dose of immune globulin at a separate anatomic injection site as well as the initial dose of vaccine. Children less than one year old should get a single intramuscular dose of immune globulin instead of the vaccine.

Japanese encephalitis is rare in Singapore but a vaccine for this is suggested for individuals who are going to spend a month or more in rural areas or engage in extensive outdoor activities in rural or agricultural areas. The vaccine is administered at least a month before departure and is followed by a second dose which should be completed at least a week before departure. It is also important to pay attention to insect safety in addition to getting this vaccine.

If you haven’t had the Hepatitis B vaccine before then it is suggested you get it before commencing on your travels to Singapore. However, as the vaccine is normally given in different stages you might not have time to complete the entire series, unless you start a year in advance.

If you have had the proper childhood vaccinations then you shouldn’t need a polio vaccine. Cholera and typhoid vaccines are not generally recommended for travel to Singapore since both are rarely reported there.

Before you leave, you will want to get copies of any pertinent medical records that might be useful during your stay in Singapore. Remember that your prescriptions there are not re-fillable so you will have to find a local physician to treat you and give you new prescriptions for any existing medications you may take. Medical records from home might help speed this up. Some drugs that are legal in your home country might be illegal in other countries. You can find much of this information from the US Department of State Consular Information Sheets.

There have been a few health outbreaks in Singapore fairly recently. Hand, foot, and mouth disease are reported from Singapore on a regular basis, with the most recent outbreak being in April 2012. Signs of this usually include oral blisters, fever, and a rash or blisters on the palms or bottom of feet. The viruses responsible for hand, foot, and mouth disease are transmitted by exposure to fecal material from infected individuals. There isn’t any vaccine available so it’s essential to practice good hygiene.

In January 2008, cases of chikungunya fever were reported. This is a mosquito-borne illness whose symptoms include joint pain and fever. Outbreaks have been seen in Little India, Kranji Way, Lim Chu Kang, Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre (PPWC), and Sungei Kadut. It is important to practice good insect protection since there is no vaccine for this.

There are also regular outbreaks of dengue fever reported from Singapore. Sometimes, this flu-like illness is accompanied by shock or hemorrhage. Although cases are reported every year, in 2005 there was an outbreak that caused 19 deaths and more than 13,000 cases. This illness is transmitted by the Aedes mosquitoes. These usually bite in the daytime and in areas that are densely populated.

In 2003, an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was reported. This caused 31 deaths and 206 cases. The only other reports of SARS since 2003 have been attributed to laboratory contaminations.

In 2004, Singapore saw an increased number of cases of melioidosis, which may cause pneumonia or sepsis. In those with compromised immune systems, this infection could be fatal. It is caused by a bacteria called Burkholderia pseudomallei, which lives in soil and surface water. As a result, the majority of the cases are linked to direct contact with mud or water.

Some of the marine hazards in Singapore come from jellyfish, sea urchin, corals, sea snakes, and sharks. It’s important to practice good water safety precautions and to avoid any unmarked or unpatrolled beaches.

To practice good insect protection, you should try to wear long sleeves and long pants, as well as closed shoes, when possible. Insect repellants that have 25-50% DEET (N,N-diethyl-3-methylbenzamide) or 20% picaridin (Bayrepel) should be used and even applied to clothing.

If you have a medical emergency while you’re traveling in Singapore, call 995.

For more information you can visit the Foreign & Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom:


You can also visit the United States’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention:


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Expat Health Insurance Partners

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