Vaccinations & Prescriptions When Traveling To The Philippines

Do you just take what the doctor tells you?


If you plan to travel to the Philippines, I am sure you are wondering about what vaccines you should get. You should be up to date with routine vaccines before any trip. Though no vaccinations are required to travel to the Philippines, there is a long list that the CDC recommends "hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, rabies, meningitis, polio, measles, mumps and rubella (MMR), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia and influenza". However the ones most commonly recommended by doctors are hepatitis A, typhoid, hepatitis B, malaria, yellow fever, rabies, and Japanese encephalitis. Personally I wanted to do my own research and find out the reasons and side effects of all these drugs. Here are the drugs and what they are for. I am not a doctor and you should speak with your doctors about any concerns you have with these drugs. This is simply what I decided to take and my reasons behind them.

"permanent side effects from this drug such as personality change, headaches, nightmares, visual issues, balance and even losing the ability to walk."

Hepatitis A

You can get hepatitis A in the Philippines from contaminated food or water, in spite of where you are eating or staying. This one was a no brainer for me.


You can also get typhoid from contaminated food or water. The CDC recommends this vaccine for most travelers, especially if you are visiting smaller cities or rural areas, staying with friends and/or relatives, or plan on being an adventurous eater.

Hepatitis B

You can get hepatitis B through sexual contact, contaminated needles, and blood products. If you feel sex with a new partner is a possibility, plan to get a tattoo or piercing, or have any medical procedure done, the CDC recommends that you get this vaccine.


To prevent malaria while traveling in the Philippines, you should avoid mosquito bites. Depending on your travel plans, such as where you are going, when you are traveling, and if you are spending a lot of time outdoors or sleeping outside, you may need to take prescribed medications before, during, and after your trip. Areas with the risk of malaria are the Palawan and Mindanao Islands. There is no risk in metropolitan Manila and other urban areas like Cebu.

My brother, was in the service and he warned me about the side effects of malaria pills, so I decided to do some more research. This is not a vaccine but a pill you will take while you are at risk of malaria. I discovered from my research that there are people all across the world that believe they have suffered permanent side effects from this drug such as personality change, headaches, nightmares, visual issues, balance and even losing the ability to walk.

"DULUTH, Minn. — Eight years after being deployed in Afghanistan, a Minnesota Air National Guard veteran said he's still living with the side effects of an anti-malaria drug he took while overseas."

I have even read multiple reports and studies believing there is a direct link between military PTSD and this drug. However the drug manufactures have maintained that there is no side affects after you stop taking the drug. Based on what I read, I decided not to take the drug. I recommend you do your own research and weigh the risks and benefits for yourself before deciding if it's right for you.

Yellow Fever

I decided to look at the outbreaks of yellow fever in the Philippines to help me decide if I should take the vaccine. I was surprised to find that there is NO risk of yellow fever in the Philippines. The government of the Philippines only requires proof of yellow fever vaccination if you are arriving from a country with risk of yellow fever. I was a little confused as to why it was recommended to receive a yellow fever vaccine to go to a country that yellow fever is almost nonexistent in, but for obvious reasons I decided not to take it.


We all know what rabies is and obviously you don't want it. If it is included in your insurance, it might be worth getting the shot. However the rabies shot works the exact same way after you get bit. At the time of writing this, without insurance, the shot costs around $500 USD. Also In the event of getting bit, your traveler's insurance should pay for it.

Japanese Encephalitis

You may need this vaccine if your trip is going to last longer than a month, depending on where you are going in the Philippines and what time of year you are traveling. If you plan to visit rural areas in the Philippines or will be spending a lot of time outdoors, you should also consider this vaccine for trips longer than a month. I recommend talking to your doctor about your travel plans to see if this vaccine is right for you.

Traveling with Medication to the Philippines

When traveling with your medications internationally, you should keep your prescriptions in their original bottles with the label still on them. Also, put them in clear bags that are easy for the officers to look through. It is strongly recommended to put these prescriptions in your carry-on in case of lost luggage and need for immediate access. Something like an inhaler can be kept in your purse or pocket. You do not need to bring the original handwritten prescription, just your passport with the same name that is on the bottles. The TSA has some more tips for traveling with your medications and can answer more questions you might have. Click here.

Medicines in the Philippines

Pharmacies in the Philippines are pretty cool. In the Philippines ,the majority of drugs you might need will be over the counter, and a doctor’s prescription is not generally needed. This does not include opioid pain medications and benzodiazepine family drugs such as valium. Pretty much, if its a drug that could be considered addictive, then it will probably require a script. Also, you're not even required to buy an entire script. You can buy five pills of your blood pressure medications if that's all you require before you travel home again. Personally, as an asthmatic, I love this. I have always found it kind of dumb that I need a script to get an inhaler that I will require the rest of my life.

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