Asian countries have a bad reputation when it comes to health and safety, especially for westerners. I can’t tell you how many public health service commercials I have seen about the dangers of vacationing in Asia without extra vaccinations. While it is true that China is still a second world country by definition, just by interning (working, in other words) in a first or second tier city will not likely get you sick.
As mentioned, living and interning in a first-tier city, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, or Shenzhen is not high-risk if you stay within the city borders. Your biggest concern will probably be fake alcohol, fake meat, and clean water.
If you plan on visiting rural China (e.g. Yunnan’s ethnic minority villages), or even surrounding Southeast Asian countries, such as Vietnam, Laos, or Cambodia; then, do you may want to consult a doctor about getting extra vaccinations.
If you’re an outdoorsy person who enjoys exploring off-the-beaten-paths in the form of hiking, camping, or other outdoor sports; then, perhaps you should consider getting vaccinated for extra protection.
You should know what your routine vaccinations are (they differ by country) and whether you’re protected before you leave. Remember, vaccinations should be done 4-6 weeks prior to your trip—you don’t want to be on the way back when they finally kick in!
Most doctors would recommend that all travelers to China would get vaccinated against Hepatitis A and Typhoid, both of which you can get from contaminated water or food (sometimes the water they use to make your food is dirty).
If you’re a partyer and worry about unsafe sex, tattoo needles, or just getting in an accident and ending up in a less-than-hygienic clinic, get vaccinated for Hepatitis B as well.
For the brave adventurers, enquire with your health practitioner on the following vaccinations:
Malaria (oral pills)
If you clicked on our links for the World Health Organization fact sheets on each disease that you could get, you’ll note that the side-effects are unpleasant at best, and deadly at worst. Do your homework, consult a physician, and remember the following:
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