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Philippines

Page last updated on 18 March 2019

Located at the very top of the coral triangle is the Philippines. The Philippines is made up of 7,641 islands and is home to the highest concentration of coral, flora and fauna, marine, bird and reptile species in the world.

Latest security advice
Exercise a high degree of caution
On 22 April, a 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck the northern Luzon region causing damage to infrastructure and disrupting essential services, including transport. It may take some time for services to resume full operations. Monitor media reports and follow the advice of the local authorities (See Natural disasters). We haven't changed the level - exercise a high degree of caution in the Philippines. Higher levels apply in some parts of the country.

If you’re planning a trip to the Philippines, you won’t be disappointed. Its natural beauty is unquestionable, from stunning tropical beaches and waterfalls, to volcanoes, caves and picturesque rice terraces. And to accompany all of this, home to one of the world’s smallest species of monkey – the bug-eyed Tarsier. 

The capital of the Philippines, Manila, blends the oriental with the occidental, blending historic and modern. From the oldest, most historic walled district of ‘Intramuros’, with its old dungeons and gunpowder rooms to the modern art galleries and theatres, Manila is filled with life and diversity.
 
A tropical island paradise still comes with its risks of contracting vaccine-preventable disease or illnesses. Speak with your healthcare professional about the vaccinations or preventative medications you might need to protect yourself prior to your departure.

Before you go to Philippines

What vaccinations do I need for the Philippines?

All travellers should be up to date with their routine vaccinations before heading off to the Phillipines. These include vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, chicken pox, polio and influenza. For a full list, refer to the National Immunisation Program – available here.

Most travellers 
There is an increased risk of contracting hepatitis A and typhoid in the Philippines, both of which can be contracted through contaminated food or water. 

Some travellers
Depending on the duration of your stay, where you are staying and what activities you have planned, the following vaccinations may be recommended for you by your doctor:

  • Hepatitis B 
  • Japanese encephalitis (particularly if you are visiting rural areas and/or spending a lot of time outdoors)
  • Malaria
  • Rabies (can be found in dogs, bats and other mammals)
How much do vaccinations for Philippines cost?

Medicare will only cover your GP consultation cost in most cases, but some private travel clinics you may have an out of pocket expense of approximately $50-$100. Medicare will not cover the vaccinations, and vaccination prices vary a lot. The average cost of a single travel vaccine can very between $45-85. The general advice is to allocate about $300-600 per person (including a travel medical kit) for average trips to the more remote areas.

If you have private healthcare, you may find they will cover some costs, but this varies from one company to another – check with your personal insurer for more details. 
 

How long before you travel to the Philippines do you need vaccinations?

It is best to consult with your doctor or travel health clinic at least 4-6 weeks prior to your departure. They will be able to advise you about any vaccinations that you may need for your trip well before you leave, based on your specific travel plans. 

What your doctor will need to know:

  • When you plan to travel (time of year/season)
  • The duration of your trip 
  • The regions of the Philippines you are visiting 
  • Your planned activities (i.e. if you are going trekking or visiting remote and/or wilderness areas)
  • If you will be in contact with animals
  • If you are up-to-date with your routine vaccinations  

Your doctor may also conduct a general health check-up. This may be needed for your travel insurance if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

If you are not up-to-date with your routine vaccinations or if the doctor believes you may be at an increased risk of contracting a vaccine-preventable disease, then they may recommend you get a booster or be revaccinated against a particular disease. 
 

Are vaccinations for travel covered by health insurance?

Some health insurance companies provide coverage for vaccinations. You will need to contact your health insurance provider to see what they cover.

When you see your doctor regarding your trip, Medicare may cover the total cost of your consultation fees (if it is a bulk billing practice), or otherwise a portion of the cost. However, if you need to be vaccinated, Medicare will not cover the cost of the vaccines themselves.

I'm travelling for work to Manila, do I need vaccines before I travel?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that all travellers are up-to-date with their routine vaccinations including  measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), varicella (chickenpox), polio, and influenza. These vaccinations are given as part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP). For a full list please refer to the NIP schedule, available here.

In some cases, you may need a booster or re-vaccination against a disease to ensure you still have immunity.


Other diseases that are considered a risk in Manila include hepatitis A, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, and rabies. Malaria is common in some parts of the Philippines, but not so much in Manila. Your doctor will be able to let you know which vaccinations are recommended for you, based on the time of year, destination/s, activities planned and the duration of your stay. 

How to keep healthy when travelling in the Philippines?

The standard of healthcare facilities in the Philippines varies from place to place. So, it is important you a prepared before heading off on your trip.

See your doctor at least 4-6 weeks before departure to discuss your travel health requirements.

Before travelling

  • Register your trip with Smart Traveller  
  • Make sure you have enough of your regular prescription medicines
  • Put together a travel kit with medication for pain, diarrhoeal medicine, oral rehydration salts, antiseptic lotion or ointment, adhesive bandages and other wound dressings, insect repellent, sunscreen, latex gloves, thermometer, motion sickness medicine, water purification tablets and compression stockings
  • Ensure you’re up-to-date with your routine vaccinations
  • Take out travel insurance - to cover you and your family for medical and other costs resulting from unexpected incidents and accidents

During travel:

  • The tap water in the Philippines is not safe to drink. 
  • Drink bottled or filtered water only and check the plastic seal on bottled water is intact. Avoid adding ice to your drinks, and check that salad and fruit have been washed with filtered water prior to consumption.  
  • Traveller's diarrhoea is common in Philippines. 
  • Important ways to prevent traveller’s diarrhoea include:
    • ensure you wash your hands with soap and water regularly 
    • where possible, opt for fully cooked fresh food and only eat fruit that you peel yourself. 
  • Avoid mosquito bites, as mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis and Zika are considered a risk in the Philippines. Preventative medication or vaccines are available for malaria and Japanese encephalitis, but not for dengue or Zika. It is important to protect yourself with insect repellents, wear clothes that cover your arms and legs and stay in accommodation with fly nets and screening. Talk to your doctor before your trip regarding how you can prevent mosquito-borne diseases.
  • Rabies is a serious concern in the Philippines, which is among the top 10 countries in the world with the highest amount of reported cases. If you are travelling with young children, or if you will be participating in activities that will bring you into contact with animals such as dogs, cats or bats, it is recommended that you consider a pre-exposure vaccination prior to your departure. Your doctor can advise whether vaccinations are required for your trip.
  • Use condoms to prevent sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia, gonorrhoea, human papillomavirus, herpes, syphilis, hepatitis B and HIV
  • Diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B can also be spread through fluids such as blood and semen. To protect yourself, do not inject drugs, do not share needles or devices that can break the skin including those use for tattooing, piercings or acupuncture. Vaccinations are available for hepatitis B.

VaccineHub offers general information only. Please see a healthcare professional for medical advice

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Sources & Citations

  1. Worldometers. Philippines Population (live). Available at: http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/philippines-population/ [accessed 22 May 2018].
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Travelers’ health. Health Information for Travelers to Philippines. Available at: https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/philippines [accessed 22 May 2018].
  3. Australian Government, Department of Health. The Australian Immunisation Handbook 10th Edition. Available at: http://www.immunise.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/Handbook10-home~handbook10part3~handbook10-3-2 [accessed 22 May 2018].
  4. Choice. Travel Health Guide. 2016. Available at: https://www.choice.com.au/travel/on-holidays/health/buying-guides/travel-health#Vaccinations [accessed 22 May 2018].
  5. Finder, Travel Vaccinations – Can I claim travel vaccinations on my private health insurance? Available at: https://www.finder.com.au/travel-vaccinations [accessed 22 May 2018]
  6. World Health Organisation. International Travel and Health. Available at: http://www.who.int/ith/vaccines/en/ [accessed 22 May 2018].
  7. Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Smart Traveller. Philippines. Available at: http://smartraveller.gov.au/countries/asia/south-east/pages/philippines.aspx#health [accessed 22 May].
  8. International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers. Country Health Advice, Philippines. Food & Water Safety: Overview. Available at: https://www.iamat.org/country/philippines/risk/food-water-safety-overview [accessed 23 May 2018].
  9. Department of Science and Technology. Philippine Council for Health Research and Development. All you need to know about rabies. Available at: http://www.pchrd.dost.gov.ph/index.php/news/library-health-news/6174-all-you-need-to-know-about-rabies [accessed 23 May 2018].
     

SPANZ.SAPAS.18.04.0160 - Date of preparation July 2018

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