A) You don't HAVE to get ANY shots to visit Asia if you don't want to. A lot of people don't worry about catching a disease, and chances are you won't catch anything on your trip.
B) You don't HAVE to have medical insurance in the country in which you live.
C) I'll bet the vast majority of the people visiting this web site have personal medical coverage that they pay for every month of their lives.
The reason you have medical insurance is because if something bad comes your way, you'll need medical coverage to survive either the health problem, or the costs of curing it.
Getting shots before you travel is smart insurance. You might not come
in contact with anything bad, but if you do you'll be glad you're immune.
To be a world traveler, you are going to need shots. It's well worth the effort. Take the time to learn about the areas you'll be visiting, and how to protect yourself against the local diseases. Don't let this information scare you away from experiencing what the world has to offer. If you prepare yourself - you'll be ready.
So get ready.
We take a lot for granted here in America. Diseases that we've long since forgotten still thrive in many foreign countries. Even if you've had your "childhood" shots, you'll need to reactivate your immune system. Getting your childhood shots again gives you a lifetime of full protection. And keep in mind that Thailand has modern hospitals that are up to American standards.
Measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, flu, and the hepatitis series of shots all come highly recommended. Typhoid is optional. Keep in mind the hepatitis series takes six months to complete. Most people don't plan six months in advance, but getting only two of the three successive shots (one month apart for the first and second shot) before you go will offer perhaps 80% protection if you are accidentally exposed to the disease. Get the last shot of the series after you return to get full protection.
Talk to your doctor about what hepatitis series is for you - hepatitis A (3 shots), hepatitis B (3 shots), or both (6 shots), as well as any other shots that now make the Asian list.
The hepatitis series has now been added to the list of shots recommended for all children in the United States, just as routinely as measles, mumps and rubella were given to everyone born after 1960.
Keep in mind that should you need medical treatment overseas, the blood supply may not be up to U.S. standards. For that reason alone, the hepatitis A & B series is a good idea.
The polio vaccine is another item on the list for travelers to Asia.
The cholera shot is no longer recommended.
These shots are NOT expensive, but they DO offer precious protection and piece of mind.
Food & Drink
The food all over Thailand is fantastic. Even the roadside (or riverside) food stands are great eating. If steam is coming off of it, it's ok to eat from these temporary stands.
It is VERY unlikely that any Westerner would contract leprosy. If you were that 1% who was not immune and you came in contact with the disease, slept in the jungles of Thailand long enough to let the disease somehow take root in your body (medical science has yet to discover how people get it) there is good news. After only 4000 years of research there is now finally a cure for the disease.
Give the victims of this disease what you can spare as they cannot physically or socially do anything to earn money, and their bodies are damaged beyond repair.
This is good news to the average Western traveler who as the sun drops, will end his day in a major city somewhere in Thailand, away from the malarial mosquitoes.
But another "day" mosquito breeds, lives and thrives in the cities, and it carries dengue fever. Now, given the choice, dengue fever is the one worth risking, as it only gives flu like symptoms and is rarely fatal.
Both of these pests can be kept at bay with a simple application of any product containing Deet. I have found REPEL (the Sportsman Formula) to work very well for my travels. Look on the various labels for the percentage of N,N-diethel-meta- toluamide (Deet) included in the product.
You can buy 100% Deet but it's not good for you, so avoid that if possible. 40% is what you're really looking for, but you'll probably find 28 - 38% on the shelf and that will do. Anything less is only good for use in North America.
Surprisingly enough I've found Target stores to be the best bet for finding the correct percentage on the shelf.
Use as directed and needed.
In the cities I have found a quick shot around the collar of my shirt
and cuffs just before exiting my hotel room works great. The stuff is
strong smelling so you'll want to leave the room so you don't breath too
much of it. Mosquitoes won't come near the stuff.
Again, don't let any of this scare you away from a visit. The cities, the beaches, the culture, the people - there's a reason millions of people visit this country. It's a fantastic vacation spot.
Believe it or not, your US insurance card will be worthless overseas. Most countries have never heard of Blue Cross & Blue Shield. If you get into an auto accident, or some other mishap occurs, you will be in the hands of a local hospital that can ill afford to work on you for free.
If you are conscious, and can pull out your MasterCard or wad of cash, then you will no doubt get treatment. But hospitalization is expensive, and your credit card might not hold out for long. Otherwise, without immediate payment, treatment will be slim and none. Even if your personal insurance covers you while vacationing, it will do you little good if the hospital doesn't know your particular brand.
For about $45, you'll have an insurance card with you that will work in every part of the world.