A few of our European friends have asked us what vaccinations are normally required for travelling to Southeast Asia and we just wanted to address that real quick. Before we mention anything specific, we aren’t doctors and what we talk about should not be taken as medical advice. You should check with your GP about your specific situation, this is just what we know from experience.
The only vaccination that we could “recommend” for Southeast Asia that you might not have gotten as a routine part of your immunization is for Hepatitis B. HepB is endemic to many countries here (the notable exceptions being Malaysia and Singapore) but it’s spread through blood and body fluids so you’re only at risk if you’re in very close, intimate, contact with locals specifically and in less then urban areas — it’s not nearly as common in more developed cities. You might also have an increased risk if you stay in the region in crowded places and engage in medical aid-type activities.
With that said, we have lived here for a long time, have many local friends and we haven’t had any issues but we aren’t in poor areas and extremely crowded locations so we wouldn’t say that it’s really needed.
This advice does not apply to neither the Indian subcontinent nor China for which you should seek medical advice to recommend immunization based on the region that you’re travelling to. Southeast Asia has much better sanitary conditions and therefore diseases such as cholera are extremely rare.
On the other hand, if you are coming from countries that are prone to these more rare conditions you might be asked to show proof of immunization before getting a Malaysia visa or even on entry, with tuberculosis being of the biggest concern. Make sure to check with the relevant health authorities in due time.