Home » Travel Q & A
People that have travelled through Cambodia with children, did you get the rabies immunisations? What are you views?
Answers (4) Add an Answer
Our whole family had the rabies vaccination before starting our travels in SEAsia. We made the decision to get the vaccine because there seemed to be almost no risk of side effects, we weren't sure how easy it was to access the vaccine over here and back then the advice was that if you didn't have it you would need 7 injections, including one right into the wound. That just sounded too traumatic for a young kid - "sorry sweetie the doctor needs to stick a needle into that big ouchie that's so sore". I so can't imagine any child being happy to accept that! My understanding is the 7 needle thing no longer true - you only need 5 needles and none of those go into the wound. When you compare it to the vaccination which is 3 needles ... that's not such a difference! If the medical advice back then was 5 needles VS 3 I'm not sure what we would have chosen. From what I've seen from friends that haven't had the vaccine and gotten bitten over here, getting access to the rabies vaccine is very easy and cheap. I'm not sure about in Cambodia but in Malaysia and Thailand it is readily available. So the worst case scenario if you didn't have it and got bitten in Cambodia would be getting to Bangkok, but I'd be surprised if they didn't have it at the hospitals in Phnom Penh. With that said, rural Cambodia is probably the one place we've been really glad we did have rabies vaccinations. Dogs seemed to out number people 3 to 1 and every time we went for a walk we had dogs barking at us or coming towards us every few minutes. They were really bold and everywhere. We're normally not that paranoid but we certainly felt that there was a definite risk of getting a dog bite while we were there. We didn't get bitten of course though so maybe we were over-worried but I certainly felt safer having had the vaccine.
Just for an alternative perspective we did NOT get the vaccine. Basically if you get rabies you will die no matter what but if you get bit by an animal and aren't sure that the animal has had a rabies vaccine then you can get the vaccines at that time. If you have already had the vaccine you still need 3 shots if bitten by a dog or monkey. If you have not had the vaccine then you need a series of 5. So it ends up being the same amount of shots in total anyway. We haven't needed them yet and hope we never will but when there is a back up plan to avoid getting sick, I would rather wait and see and at least try to avoid that toxicity in my children's bodies. Just my point of view:)
Thanks alot for your responses. 2 kids in tow l have read your detailed post on immunisations in Bangkok and l think we will do the same and have some injections in Bangkok and then head North Thailand for a few weeks. We will finish off the 3rd injection before venturing over to Cambodia. The rabies vaccines and all other immunisations are very expensive in NZ. Thanks once again for the information, is a great help.
We got the vaccine for 2 reasons: 1) we got it very cheaply at a travel clinic in Bangkok and 2) we were spending lots of time in SEA and for the reasons that Tracy (above) already mentioned (ie small kids, availability of vaccine, etc). also, the other thing about the rabies vaccine is that getting the 'pre-exposure' 3 needles buys you time in the event that you are bitten. you have something like 2-3 days to get the 'post-exposure' shot, and the rabies serum may not be readily available in every village in SEA. without the pre-exposure' shots, if you get bitten, you pretty much are supposed to get treated ASAP. Although having said that, we don't remember the dogs in Cambodia being that bad, but it could also be poor memory or good luck! But one thing to really keep in mind is that in Cambodia, the medical facilities are really really poor, even in PP. all the travel advice that you read, they all pretty much recommend getting Evacuation Insurance when traveling through Cambodia and Laos as in any real emergency, you'd have to be air lifted to Bangkok. I read about an expat based in PP who said she was air lifted and evacuated to Bangkok on 2 occasions for dehydration due to severe gastro. and kids' are even more vulnerable when they are not well. The shots are very expensive in developed countries, but not so much in developing ones such as Thailand we found. We're glad we got ours, even more so when it was so inexpensive and it's pretty much life-long. No side-effects at all, except it hurt a bit more at the time of injection only. Good luck.