Dr. Andy Barraclough previously gave an enlightening presentation about “a vaccine against anti-vaccine” to the Pattaya City Expats Club (PCEC). Thus, the question arises, ‘what vaccines should an Expat living in Thailand have?’ This was answered in his talk, entitled, ‘What vaccinations Expats in Thailand need – when and why?’ at the PCEC’s Sunday, August 4 meeting. He prefaced his remarks with his usual disclaimer that his information was not intended as medical advice, was obtained from various public sources, and was his own opinion based on those sources.
He included in his talk information on vaccination against various diseases with some emphasis on Japanese Encephalitis, Shingles, and Pneumonia. He included both the risks and the realities of such vaccinations. He also included suggestions on what vaccinations you may want if visiting countries neighboring Thailand, visiting rural areas in Thailand or traveling internationally in general. Andy is the Emeritus Professor of Public Health, and Director of Training, at the Empower School of Health. He regularly hosts and presents webinar conferences and on-line trainings through both Empower School of Health and the World Health Organization, for issues pertaining to Essential Medicines and Neglected Tropical Diseases. In addition, He has served as the Chairman of the Royal British Legion in Thailand.
He began by pointing out that a ThaiVisa.com survey in 2018, while not a scientific study, showed that only 1 in 5 expats are under 50 years of age. Further, that only 59% of the respondents have health insurance. Therefore, the focus of his talk would be on vaccinations for Seniors (the over 50s) and the use of a risk management approach to the cost/health benefits of largely self-funded vaccinations with a brief mention on infant/child vaccination (including related vaccination tables for Thailand). Andy pointed out that while such tables are good for deciding on vaccinations of children and infants, they are not so beneficial for adults.
As a primary observation, Andy said the selection or application of vaccinations in older adults (which formed the majority of his audience) was not as simple as making a list or using a table and getting the injections. Infants or children who are looking at a long-life expectancy and have very few collected lifetime immunities, are usually given a regimented series of shots early on. Whereas adults are looking at a much-reduced life expectancy and bring into the decision process things like chronic illnesses, previous immunizations, medication regimens and various living choices. All these factors must be considered when deciding whether or not to immunize against certain diseases.
He mentioned that travel internationally or to rural areas, invites interaction with various world people groups or to rural strains of bacteria. Thus, it would be sufficient grounds to consider what he called the full ‘monty’ of immunizations. The full ‘monty’ includes, DTAP (diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis), Hepatitis B, Typhoid, and if rural you should add meningitis, Tuberculosis, and Japanese encephalitis (prevalent in rural areas of Thailand).
Seniors in general should be up to date on their Tetanus shots, get the flu vaccine yearly and get the pneumococcal vaccine (general hedge against pneumonia) which is good for life. He pointed out that a man’s dog vaccination record is more likely to be up to date than that of the man; so therefore, it is highly likely that most older adults don’t know or remember what shots they have had or when they had them. Andy suggested that if in doubt it might be best to vaccinate. Most westerners have had their MMR shot (measles, mumps and rubella) but many have not had the second booster which is recommended as well. He also mentioned that if working with animals a Rabies shot is highly recommended.
Immunizations can be obtained from either International hospitals such as Bangkok Pattaya or Pattaya International or from Thai Public hospitals, which will most likely be half of what is charged by private international hospitals. He cautioned that some vaccines have shelf time limits such as the shingles vaccine, so he recommended that a person call ahead to the medical facility to verify the stocking or ordering of certain vaccines.
Vaccinations are very cost effective and are generally safe, therefore Expats are advised to evaluate their individual vaccine needs and get the ones that are necessary for their life’s activities or lifestyle.
Dr. Barraclough answered many follow up questions, receiving much deserved accolades for his fine and thorough presentation.
The meeting ended with the usual announcement of upcoming events and the Open Forum, where questions were asked and answered about expat living in Thailand. For more information about the Pattaya City Expats Club, visit their website at www.pcec.club.