Japanese encephalitis - Vaccination 

Japanese encephalitis vaccination 

Will I have to pay?

The vaccination for Japanese encephalitis will cost around £150. It's a good idea to include this in the budget for your trip.

What if I'm pregnant?

There is no evidence that the Japanese encephalitis vaccine presents any risks for pregnant women or women who are breastfeeding.

Is there anything else I should do?

Take out adequate travel insurance for countries you are visiting. Check the advice of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) about what your insurance should cover.

A vaccine against Japanese encephalitis is available for people visiting a country where there is an increased risk of catching the disease.

After a full course of the vaccine, you will have around 98% protection against Japanese encephalitis. This reduces to around 83% after 12 months.

High-risk areas for Japanese encephalitis include tropical northeast Australia and east Asia, including:

  • Cambodia
  • China
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Korea
  • Laos
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar (Burma)
  • Nepal
  • Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Sri Lanka
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

For up-to-date information about which countries are considered high risk for Japanese encephalitis, check the NHS Fit for Travel website or the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) website.

If you are travelling to a country where vaccination is recommended, visit your GP or practice nurse at least six to eight weeks before you leave to discuss whether you should have the vaccination.

When is the vaccine recommended?

The Japanese encephalitis vaccine is recommended if:

  • you are planning to spend a month or longer in a high-risk country during the rainy season
  • you are planning to visit any rural areas in high-risk countries, even if only for a short time
  • you will be taking part in any activities that may increase your risk of becoming infected, such as visiting rice fields or pig farms, cycling, camping or fieldwork 

The vaccine

There are two vaccines available for Japanese encephalitis. Ideally, they need to be completed a month before you leave. The preferred vaccine requires two doses, with the second dose given 28 days after the first. This vaccine costs around £75 for each dose and is only licensed for people aged over 18.

The other vaccine consists of three doses and is suitable for children over the age of one. It is not currently licensed in the UK, but your GP may prescribe it for you. The second dose is given seven days after the first, and the third dose is given 28 days after this. This vaccine needs to be completed at least 10 days before you leave in case you have an allergic reaction.

Both vaccines require a booster after one year. The Japanese encephalitis vaccine is not suitable for babies younger than one.

The course can sometimes be accelerated, but it will need to be completed at least 10 days before you travel. You will need to have a booster three months later.

Side effects

Some people get side effects after having the vaccine. Between 10-20% of people may experience:

  • soreness, redness or swelling at the site of the injection
  • a high temperature of 38ºC (100.4ºF) or over
  • dizziness
  • headache
  • feeling sick
  • vomiting
  • abdominal pain
  • aching muscles

More serious side effects occur in around 0.6% of people. These include:

  • a raised, itchy red rash (urticaria, or hives)
  • swelling of the face
  • difficulty breathing

If you have any of these symptoms, see your GP immediately or call NHS Direct on 0845 4647.

When is the vaccine not recommended?

The Japanese encephalitis vaccine is not suitable for children under the age of one.

If you previously had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to a Japanese encephalitis vaccine, or are allergic to any of the ingredients in the vaccine, do not take it.

You may be more at risk of having an adverse reaction to the vaccine if:

  • you have other allergies, such as allergic rhinitis or asthma
  • you have a condition that affects your nervous system (your brain, spinal cord and nerves), such as multiple sclerosis
  • you have had convulsions (fits) in the previous year

In all cases, the risks of catching the Japanese encephalitis virus will be weighed up against the risks of having an adverse reaction to the vaccine.

Page last reviewed: 01/05/2012

Next review due: 01/05/2014


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