Vaccinations for Borneo

Borneo is quickly becoming one of Asia’s top destinations, famous for its beautiful scenery, amazing food and unique wildlife. While planning their itineraries, travellers are advised to research the recommended vaccinations for Borneo and be aware of the risk factors in certain areas.

Where to go in Borneo

The island of Borneo is one of the largest in the world and is composed of three separate countries within its landmass – Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia. Every year visitors flock to this beautiful island, eager to experience its breath-taking natural landscapes and fascinating culture first-hand. Most European tourists will be aiming to visit the Malaysian part of the island which is situated on the north-western part of the island and comprised of the Sabah and Sarawak States which make up about a quarter of Borneo’s total land mass.

The coastal region around Kota Kinabalu (western Sabah State) is most popular among tourists who seek to enjoy the scenic beaches and nearby national park. Others will head for the southern city of Kuching (Sarawak State) or may be planning to have a more adventurous experience with sea sports and diving etc. based around Sandakan (northern Sabah State). No matter where you decide to head to, stunning landscapes and fascinating culture is guaranteed.

Vaccinations for Borneo

It’s important to remember that many dangerous illnesses are prevalent in Borneo and several vaccinations are recommended before you travel. For most short-term travellers the usual recommended vaccinations for Borneo include cover against the childhood diseases (Tetanus and Diphtheria, Measles, Mumps and Rubella), as well as cover against the food and water borne diseases of Typhoid and Hepatitis A. For those trekking in Borneo or staying for longer periods then cover against Hepatitis B and Rabies should be considered. Malaria Prophylaxis may need to be considered depending on your itinerary.

Vaccination List Required/ Recommended All Travellers Trekking Rural
Yellow Fever
Tetanus Tetanus
Diphtheria
Hepatitis A Hepatitis A
Typhoid Typhoid
Hepatitis B Hepatitis B
Rabies Rabies
Meningococcal Meningitis Meningococcal Meningitis
Poliomyelitis
Cholera
Tuberculosis Tuberculosis
Tick Borne Encephalitis
Japanese B Encephalitis Japanese B Encephalitis
Malaria W.H.O. report malaria transmission in this country in certain areas. Prophylaxis may be recommended in some circumstances. Please consult your Doctor or Travel Clinic.

Staying safe in Borneo

Climbing Mount Kinabalu (>4100m) is frequently included in the itineraries of those wishing to get more out of their holiday but tourists should be aware that the conditions along the trail can change quite rapidly and what started as a simple mountain trail trek can turn into something more daunting when the clouds and mist descent. Travellers have been known to become separated from the companions causing serious concern for all involved so have a travel plan and always stay within sight of others within your group. Travelling alone is never a wise thing to do especially if trekking in unfamiliar territory.

Diverse animal and plant life

Away from the coastal regions Borneo is teeming with many animal species and plants not found elsewhere throughout the world. The hope and expectation of seeing these unique plants and animals draws many tourists into the depths of the country where they can bask in this immense biodiversity and enjoy the experience of being in one of the most special parts of our world. It is said that during the last 15 to 20 years at least 600 new plant species have been discovered in Borneo. [ Watching Sean Connery in ‘Medicine Man’ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104839/ may be a good introduction to set the tone for your visit!]

Tips for travelling to Borneo

Going into the jungle does increase the potential risk factors for tourists so always travel with an organised group and never go alone. Plan your itinerary and try to get an idea of the accommodation you will be using as well as what specific activities that may be involved (jungle treks, staying overnight in hill tribe facilities, visiting the gorillas etc). Ideally this should be in place before you come for your travel vaccine consultation so we can talk through any of the less common health related problems you may encounter. For instance most tourists visiting Borneo and staying along the coastal regions will not require malaria prophylaxis but for those planning visiting the jungle then the risk increases and so the malaria protection tablets would usually be recommended. Also some of the mosquito borne diseases may be more common away from the coast (e.g. Japanese Encephalitis) though Dengue Fever is still a problem throughout the island and mosquito avoidance techniques should always be followed.

For many tourists to Borneo the ‘once in a lifetime’ experience leaves nothing but good memories. Unfortunately for the unprepared the experience can be one which leaves lasting and uncomfortable consequences which often be avoided by some up-front planning and common-sense thoughtfulness.  Be prepared and ‘know before you go’.