Vaccinations for Nepal 

by Abhinanda, on Jan 6, 2017

Nepal Travel Advice

If you’re heading over to Nepal, on what’s likely to be one of your most exciting trips ever , it’s very easy to get swirled up in excitement about seeing all of those glorious mountain peaks and completely forget about one of the most important aspects of your travel planning: vaccinations for Nepal.

Even though mountains in Nepal seem innocent enough to most of the travelers, the country is still developing. Unfortunately, some rural areas just don’t have what it takes to prevent some diseases which have been completely eliminated in the developed countries. That’s why it’s for the best to always stay on the safe side and get all of your vaccines sorted out before you travel to Nepal for your trek .

So no matter whether you’re only going to explore the Himalayas or the Annapurna trek, or you’d also be spending a few days in cities around Nepal afterwards , read on and learn how to prepare best for your trip.

Getting vaccinated is an important part of your travel preparations. Photo by Dylan

Immunization Schedule for Nepal - when to start preparing

The best time to pay some closer attention to your immunization calendar is six months before your trip. Schedule an appointment with your family doctor or some other health consultant that you trust and don’t shy away on asking anything that might be worrying you. Remember that it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Also, before taking any vaccines, it’d be a good time to do a complete body check-up, just to make sure you’re healthy enough. This is important not only for your shots but for your travels as well.

While some take the concept of adventure too seriously and think six months is way too early to care for things like this, do note that some of the shots are spread out through several months or need to be taken within a certain time frame. You definitely want to ensure your vaccines are all settled with before you get on that Kathmandu plane!

Vaccinations for Nepal - Routine

The first thing you’d want to pay attention to are the routine vaccines. The general rule goes that you need to get those sorted out no matter your country of origin or destination. Most people usually have all shots of them, however, make sure to double check on those especially if you haven’t left the country before.Routine vaccines, at least for most of the countries around the world, are:

Health Workers inoculating citizens in Nepal Photo by DFAT

Vaccinations for Nepal - Recommended

The following set of vaccines is strongly recommended for all travelers to Nepal. However, please note that the following advice does not replace professional medical opinion and that consulting with your doctor is a must prior your trip!

Yellow fever vaccine for Nepal

There’s virtually no risk of contracting the yellow fever in Nepal. However, you have to get a yellow fever vaccine if you’re travelling to Nepal from countries where there are cases of the yellow fever, such as countries in Africa or Americas.

Other health concerns

After taking care of all your vaccinations, it will come in handy to pay attention to a few other health conditions you may or may not experience on your trekking trip to Nepal.

The high altitudes of your trek protect you against mosquitoes Photo by UTCB

Malaria in Nepal

Malaria is easily a traveler’s worst nightmare and most of the adventure travelers are trying to avoid it well, like the plague! It’s important to point out that most of the treks in Nepal, as well as Kathmandu, are clear of malaria due to the lack of mosquitos on higher altitudes.

In case you’re diving deeper into Nepal, know that malaria outbreaks are still known to happen in the lowland parts of the country, especially in the Terrai region (the part bordering India), as well as in the area of Royal Chitwan National Park.

Since there’s no malaria vaccine, you can only take measures to prevent it. The most popular measure is taking anti-malarial tablets. Make sure to get those prescribed before you leave and start taking them as advised. Do note that you’ll need to take those daily.

Using a good mosquito repellent and covering your body parts at dusk and dawn (part of the day when the mosquitos are the most active) will also help significantly. Getting plenty of rest and staying healthy through the trip boost your immune system and lower your chances of getting malaria.

Altitude sickness in the Himalayas

If you’re trekking great altitudes, chances are, you’re going to experience at least some sort of altitude sickness but if you’re lucky enough, it won’t be anything severe that will ruin your trip. Altitude sickness occurs because your body needs some time to adjust to the higher altitude, or better said, to the lack of oxygen (air pressure) on higher altitudes. Eg. If you are only trekking Poon Hill , which lies at an altitude of approx 3200m, it is quite reasonable to expect an altitude sickness free trek, but if you are trekking to Annapurna or if you are trekking upto EBC , both of which are at much higher altitudes, you can reasonably expect some symptoms of altitude sickness, unless you take lots of precautions and give your body time to acclimatize.

The best way to fight altitude sickness it to ascend slowly, and the best cure is to descend. There’s a climbers adage - Climb high, Sleep low.  Your body is simply not a machine – no matter how fit you are, remember to take things slow. Take the time to plan your climb carefully before you actually embark on it and calculate enough time in for acclimation.  

Air pollution

A big problem most of the travelers oversee when traveling to Nepal is the air pollution in some of the major cities. While it may not seem that bad to you, it’s not the smartest idea to head over on a trekking trip with some sort of an infection going on in your chest, because the high altitude will exacerbate any problems

Thus a lot of travelers who do a combined mountain-and-city trip wear face masks while walking around major cities like Kathmandu or Pokhara. Kathmandu is especially bad regarding air quality since it’s positioned between two mountain ranges (the Himalayas to the north and the Mahabharata range to the south) and decent air flow is prevented.

If you’ve suffered from any pulmonary diseases in the past or have chronic respiratory problems, it’s for the best to stay on the safe side and wear a mask at all times, so you’d limit the dust inhalation.

Washing hands and maintaining hygiene is of utmost importance during your trek. Photo by Grace

Final word of advice

Immunization is a key thing to pay attention to while planning your next travel, especially for those who like to have adrenaline flowing through their bodies. A bad infection can ruin your trekking (and every other) trip in ways you can’t even imagine – rest assured, you don’t even want to imagine.

Apart from making sure all of your vaccines are in order, try and keep your hygiene levels as high as possible throughout the whole trip. Bring some hand sanitizer with you as you’re not very likely to have access to clean water and soap at all times, especially not in the rural areas.

Last but certainly not least, double check your traveler’s insurance and make sure everything is up to date and that you’re covered for everything health-related that might be worrying you.

As long as you’re taking care of all of the things listed above, you’re going to minimize your chances of having some nasty bug ruin your trip and get more time to really dig deeper into all of the amazing sides of Nepal.