Japanese Encephalitis Vaccination
Japanese encephalitis (JE) is a virus transmitted through
the bite of infected mosquitoes. It’s most commonly found in rice fields and
other rural areas of Asia.
JE is closely related to the St. Louis and West Nile viruses.
All three viruses cause acute inflammation of the brain and spinal column.
Symptoms begin with fever and headache. However, they can turn into:
According to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC), a quarter of people who develop JE will die.
Half will develop permanent brain damage.
Currently vaccination is only widely available for adults in
the United States. The vaccine approved for children is no longer manufactured.
If a child needs a vaccine, the options include:
use of the adult vaccine
in a clinical trial
to a travelers’ health clinic in Asia
Who Needs Vaccination?
Not everyone who travels to Asia needs to be vaccinated for
JE. Vaccination is recommended only for those who are:
- going to
spend at least one month in an area where JE occurs
to visit any rural areas or engage in outdoor activities
an area with a current JE outbreak
of their travel plans
The vaccine is given in two doses. The doses should be given
at least 28 days apart. The second dose should be received at least one week
before potential JE exposure. This means you need the first vaccine dose at
least 35 days before the start of travel.
Who Should Not Be Vaccinated?
Certain people should not get the JE vaccination. This
includes people who:
had a serious reaction to a previous dose of the JE vaccine
allergic to any vaccine components
pregnant, except in certain circumstances
Talk to your doctor if you are planning only a short stay in
Asia. If you are primarily visiting urban areas, you may not need the vaccine.
Potential Side Effects
Severe reactions to this vaccine are rare. However, many
people have mild side effects including:
at the injection site
or swelling at the injection site