Vaccinations, Innoculations

[Original Subject: Vaccinations]

One of the parents on our Taipei Baby Message Board has asked about vaccines.

If you are for or against vaccination, or selectively vax, then please consider sharing your opinions with us.

Moderator/Gus, I hope I wasn’t out of line to post this. I’m sure you’ll delete it if you think it’s inappropriate

My Taipei Baby

I’m in favor of all the recommended childhood vaccinations. While vaccinations have been associated with severe adverse reactions, these are very rare compared with the number of illnesses and deaths prevented by vaccines. That is, the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks.

The Lancet ( has published several editorials on the subject, and some of them are available free online (although you have to register). I don’t seem to be able to link directly to the articles, so you’ll have to go to the site and search. Here’s an example: “What would happen if we stopped vaccination?” by Heikki Peltola of Finland. He estimated that stopping measles and Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type B) vaccinations in the United States would lead to about 3-4 million cases of measles (450 fatal), and 20,000 Hib infections (600 fatal) each year. These numbers would probably increase as more people aqquired these infections.

Just stay away from exotic vaccines like JE (Japanese Encephalitis (of however you spell that) aka Jap. Brainfever. Nasty stuff.


I’m curious, why is the Jap Enceph “nasty”? At first I thought I shouldn’t have my kids get it, but my understanding is it is recommended by US doctors if you live in this part of the world.

My Taipei Baby

PS Jeff, thanks for your comments and for the web address.

Hi Jennifer,

The CDC ( has information on many diseases, so you might want to check there for more information. As far as I can tell, the JE vaccine is not really exotic (although Rascal may have some information I’m not aware of) and is recommended for people who reside in endemic areas such as Taipei. Here’s a link to the CDC information on JE: There’s also a recent abstract on the adverse-effect profile of the vaccine on PubMed ( t_uids=10825597&dopt=Abstract), but you’d have to go to a medical library to get the full article.

I wasn’t even aware that JE was recommended for Taipei.
Anyhow, when I initially left for my foreign service assignment I was given pretty much everything there is for tropical countries. This was done at the “Tropical Institute” in Germany.
They recommended vaccination against JE, too, but I had to sign a document which frees them of any responsibility in case of sideeffects as the vaccine was not approved at the time - and the injection area hurt for a few days.

Well, check if it’s really necessary and what side effects there are (I always feel very sleepy which can be caused by that though I am not sure if that’s the reason) - then decide if you still want it.

I will not take a refreshment again for that but that doesn’t mean you have to follow my advise (but at least in case of babies I would be rather cautios).

In the six years that I have lived here in Taiwan, I have never heard of anyone here getting Japanese Encephalitis, so I’m sure it isn’t necessary to vaccinate against it (unless you plan on traveling to Japan anytime soon). The only mosquito-transmitted disease here in Taiwan is Dengue Fever, but unfortunately, there isn’t any vaccine for that.

I don’t think it’s necessary to vaccinate a baby for Hepatitis B, either, because Hepatitis B is transmitted the same way as HIV (AIDS) – only by sex, blood transfusions, or used needles. It’s impossible to get Hepatitis B any other way. And in fact, for the last 10 years or so, all the blood used in blood transfusions is first tested for Hepatitis B (as well as HIV). So I don’t see why anyone would need a vaccination for Hepatitis B until puberty.

JE: According to the CDC map, Taiwan is an endemic area. There are only sporadic cases in Taiwan. However, if you look at the table the footnote mentions that this is because of the high vaccination rate among residents. The low rate does not represent the risk to people who haven’t been vaccinated.

As for HBV, your right. It’s transmitted through sex and contaminated blood or blood products. From the CDC Web site:

“HBV is spread by blood and sex. You may have gotten infected if:
You had sex with an infected person.
Your mother had hepatitis B when you were born.
You shared personal items that had infected blood on them, such as toothbrushes or razors.
You shot street drugs.
You are a health care worker and were exposed to infected blood.”

Vaccination is recommended for newborns in the United States, which has a much lower prevalence of HBV than Taiwan. Here is part of the reasoning:
“Administering the first dose of hepatitis B vaccine soon after birth should minimize the risk for infection because of errors in maternal hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) testing or reporting, or from exposure to persons with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in the household, and can increase the likelihood of completing the vaccine series.”

how much does it cost for vaccinations in Taiwan?

I have to weigh the pluses and minuses to each vaccination. I really don’t want Hep B so I got vaccinated but I am not so keen on flu shots and the Chicken Pox vaccine because you need to get sick sometimes. That is part of living. I think it is a shame that a whole generation of children will go through life in the US without the week off from Chicken Pox.

Chicken Pox is usually mild, but it caused an about 100 deaths and 11,000 deaths each year in the United States before the vaccine was approved. It can also cause serious complications, including scarring, pneumonia, and swelling of the brain.

(unless you plan on traveling to Japan anytime soon)

Aehem, that’s a joke, isn’t it? JE is not only found in Japan …

Why not Vaccinate ?
The whole idea of a vaccination is to provide the recipient with a small enough dose of the real thing not to do any harm but to allow the immune system the ability to develop the antibodies.

Yes in a small number of examples these can result in some very negative side effects and even death, but the benefit outweighs the risk anytime.

As far as cost goes here in Taiwan, then as long as the baby is entitled to NHI it is relatively cheap, a few hundred NT alltold. If no NHI then would not like to comment.

My child which was born only two months ago will get a full series of shots.

Prevention is better than cure.

Now I see what I did wrong. I said “share your opinions with us” but I failed to mention that I wanted people to come on over to our message board.

Anyway, off topic here but did any mothers here (or did your spouse/partner) do the confinement after a child?

I put together a short article on confinement customs for My Taipei Baby but wanted to add information on ordering the food, or the places where you can stay for a month and have staff take care of you.

Any info appreciated!

My Taipei Baby

Can anyone tell me where I can get information about the kinds of innoculations (ie for what diseases) Taiwan gives infants of three months old.

My baby is starting a course of innoculations in England and I need to know whether they can be continued in Taiwan.

Any information would be great!

You can check out Jennifer’s Taipei Baby website. She has (I think) a link up that should inform you of the shots they give.

I will also go look at my son’s baby book and double check, but generally they are similar to the shots you will get in the west.

The only shot that I did give my son, which I would not have in the states is the TB shot. I have however refused the Chicken Pox vax here, which they give at 1 year, because I am not sure the version they have here is that effective, long story, but you can email me off the list if you would like.

Jennifer is on a much needed vacation, and will be back at the end of the week. If you have more questions, just tag her on her site.

Once you get here, let us know, there are a lot of great groups for parents and kids here in Taipei.


Hi Kristy,
How’s the TV?

I didn’t know the chicken pox vax in Taiwan is different from the one given in the states - can you please enlighten me (since I just had it done on the little one…).

The other one they don’t regularly give in Taiwan is the HiB, but you can just ask for it and pay for it and there is no problem.

I know it’s important if you’re coming from overseas to make sure your doctor writes down exactly which BRAND NAME of the vaccinations your child has received. For some vaccinations (I can’t remember which), different brand names require different numbers of shots.



TV is great, we got the VCR hooked up, now it is just trying to figure out the DVD!

YOU are right on the HiB, it is a bit extra, but the costs here are so low!

My experience with the Chicken Pox vaccine, of course anecdotal, is that those kids who are vacinated here (as compared to the States) still tend to contract the virus, all though some may say it is a lesser degree, but those kids who get the vax in the states do not seem to get it. Like I said, all anecodotal. I figure I will wait until Declan either contracts it, or immunize him back at home before he starts school.

Interesting… just came across this topic. I wonder how the numbers compare. My understanding was that some kids in the States will contract the virus even if they’ve been immunized.

I figure once they start school, if they haven’t gotten chicken pox yet, the chances of contracting it naturally from a classmate are better.

One of my Taiwanese friends was working as a biologist here developing vaccines. Her professional opinion (two years ago) was that it’s better to get it naturally as a child.



In the states now, most schools will not let the kid attend K or 1st grade without either the Chicken Pox vaccine, or proof that they have already contracted and recovered from the Chicken Pox…

Even more scary is there are some thoughts (minor still but out there) about inoculations for small pox on a “nationwide” (US) basis. Good news is most of the Doc’s are still saying the risk is too great for a general populous vaccination drive.