A signed and dated letter from your physician describing your medical conditions and medications, including generic names, is also a good idea. If carrying syringes or needles be sure to have a physician’s letter documenting their medical necessity.
Before visiting Vietnam, you may need to get vaccinations and medications for vaccine-preventable diseases and other diseases you might be at risk during your travel. Your doctor or health-care provider will determine what you will need, depending on factors such as your health and immunization history, areas of the country you will be visiting, and planned activities.
To have the most benefit, see a health-care provider at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for your vaccines to take effect and to start taking medicine to prevent malaria, if you need it. Even if you have less than 4 weeks before you leave, you should still see a health-care provider for needed vaccines, anti-malaria drugs and other medications and information about how to protect yourself from illness and injury while traveling.
Pack medications in their original, clearly labeled containers. A signed and dated letter from your physician describing your medical conditions and medications, including generic names, is also a good idea. If carrying syringes or needles be sure to have a physician’s letter documenting their medical necessity. If you have a heart condition brings a copy of your ECG taken just prior to traveling.
In most Southeast Asian countries you can buy many medications over the counter without a doctor’s prescription, but it can be difficult to find some of the newer drugs, particularly the latest antidepressant drugs, blood pressure medications and contraceptive pills.
We recommend that you see a health-care provider who specializes in Travel Medicine. If you have a medical condition, you should also share your travel plans with any doctors you are currently seeing for other medical reasons.
If your travel plans will take you to more than one country during a single trip, be sure to let your health-care provider know so that you can receive the appropriate vaccinations and information for all of your destinations.
The only vaccine required by international regulations is yellow fever. Proof of vaccination will only be required if you have visited a country in the yellow-fever zone within the six days prior to entering Vietnam. If you are traveling to Vietnam from Africa or South America you should check to see if you require proof of vaccination.
Specialized travel-medicine clinics are your best source of information; they stock all available vaccines and will be able to give specific recommendations for you and your trip. The doctors will take into account factors such as past vaccination history, the length of your trip, activities you may be undertaking, and underlying medical conditions, such as pregnancy.
Most vaccines don’t produce immunity until at least two weeks after they’re given, so visit a doctor four to eight weeks before departure.
Recommended items for a personal medical kit:
– antibacterial cream, eg Muciprocin
– antibiotics for skin infections, eg Amoxicillin/Clavulanate or Cephalexin
– antibiotics for diarrhoea, eg Norfloxacin or Ciprofloxacin; Azithromycin for bacterial diarrhoea; and Tinidazole for giardiasis or amoebic dysentery
– antifungal cream, eg Clotrimazole
– antihistamines for allergies, eg Cetrizine for daytime and Promethazine for night
– anti-inflammatories, eg Ibuprofen
– antinausea medication, eg Prochlorperazine
– antiseptic for cuts and scrapes, eg Betadine
– antispasmodic for stomach cramps, eg Buscopa
– decongestant for colds and flus, eg Pseudoephedrine
– DEET-based insect repellent
– diarrhoea ‘stopper’, eg Loperamide
– first-aid items such as scissors, plasters (Band Aids), bandages, gauze, thermometer (electronic, not mercury), sterile needles and syringes, safety pins and tweezers
– indigestion medication, eg Quick Eze or Mylanta
– laxatives, eg Coloxyl
– migraine medication (your personal brand), if a migraine sufferer
– oral-rehydration solution for diarrhoea, eg Gastrolyte
– paracetamol for pain
– steroid cream for allergic/itchy rashes, eg 1% to 2% hydrocortisone
– sunscreen and hat
– throat lozenges
Malaria is not really a big problem in Vietnam. Vietnamese Government and Ministry of Health, with lots of strong solutions, have tried to put it as well as other tropical diseases under control. Anyway, since it is a tropical country, this type of disease can not be totally eradicated. You need to discuss with your doctor if you need to use antimalarial drug since it might cause side effects like: tiredness, nausea, drowsiness or stomach upset….
The best ways for you to avoid getting sick with malaria is to use insect repellent and wearing long and sleeves to prevent mosquito bites when and where mosquito is available. Try to get the type of long lasting insect repellent and use them more frequent around every 3 or 4 hour when you travel to the areas have mosquitos.
When and where the risk of malaria is low, taking an antimalarial drug is not recommended.
Your insurance should basically cover health service and medication. You should find out in advance if your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or if they reimburse you later for overseas health expenditures. You may prefer a policy that pays doctors or hospitals directly rather than you having to pay on the spot and claim later. If you have to claim later, make sure you keep all documentation.
Be prepared but not paranoid. Before departure you should check the packing list carefully. Actually, health service in Vietnam is rather quick and good. You can use the local services from government run or private hospitals or to set peace your mind, international health care services are available in most of big or tourist cities. You can also buy common drug anywhere and anytime from drug stores without doctor prescription as long as you know what you want.
At the group meeting or the first day of your trip, you should inform our group leader or tour guide about your health status and your special request on using medication, pre-existing medical experience or food balance request if there is any.