Korea has become a popular summer vacation destination for foreigners over the past few years. According to the Korea Tourism Organization, foreigners visiting Korea during summer vacation months of June to August reached about four million in number in 2018, a 26.57 percent increase from the same period in 2017.
While no vaccination is mandatory for foreigners to enter Korea, the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do recommend some vaccinations before visiting Korea.
The recommended vaccines include measles, chickenpox, hepatitis A and B, typhoid, Japanese Encephalitis, tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis (TDAP) and influenza.
However, as vaccines such as measles, chickenpox, and TDAP are recommended in most countries around the globe, travelers only have to consider vaccinations for a few illnesses.
One essential vaccine while traveling to Korea is the hepatitis A vaccine.
The CDC recommends it because travelers can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in Korea, regardless of where they are eating or staying.
The Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reported a steep increase in the number of reported cases of hepatitis A this year. According to the KCDC, the number of reported cases for hepatitis A until April 28 this year was 3,597, a threefold increase from the 1,067 in the same period of 2018.
Adventurous travelers who visit Korea to see rural landscapes and enjoy outdoors during summer might also want to consider receiving shots for Japanese encephalitis as most human cases for the disease happen from May to October. Mosquitoes generally spread the disease, and the infection mostly occurs outside of cities.
Other mosquito-related vaccines required for visitors include malaria. However, the CDC only recommends the vaccine for tourists visiting northern parts of Incheon, Gangwon Province, and Gyeonggi Province, including the demilitarized zone.
The CDC also advises rabies vaccines for some groups of travelers that work with or around animals such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals and researchers as well as travelers involved in outdoor and other activities in remote areas that put them at risk for animal bites, such as adventure travel and caving.
However, the CDC does state that rabies in South Korea is not a major risk to most travelers.