You can reduce your risk of Japanese encephalitis by getting vaccinated and taking precautions to avoid mosquito bites in at-risk areas.

Japanese encephalitis vaccination

Vaccination against Japanese encephalitis is recommended for anyone who may be at risk of the infection through their work or travels. It provides protection for more than 9 out of every 10 people who have it.

Vaccination is particularly important if:

If you’re travelling to a country where Japanese encephalitis is found, visit your GP or practice nurse at least six to eight weeks before you leave, to discuss whether you should have the vaccination.

For more information about at-risk areas, read about the causes of Japanese encephalitis.

The vaccine

There’s one vaccine for Japanese encephalitis currently licensed in the UK for use in adults and children over two months old.

The vaccination is given as an injection and requires two doses for full protection, with the second dose given 28 days after the first.

People from the ages of 18 to 65 may be given the vaccine on an accelerated schedule, where the second dose is given seven days after the first.

Either course of vaccination should be completed at least seven days before potential exposure to the Japanese encephalitis virus.

The Japanese encephalitis vaccine isn’t usually available on the NHS and the cost can vary between clinics. Each dose can cost more than £90 per person, so it’s a good idea to include this when budgeting for your trip.

If you continue to be at risk of infection, a booster dose of the vaccine should be given 12 to 24 months after you’re first vaccinated.

Side effects

Up to 40% of people who have the Japanese encephalitis vaccine experience mild and short-lived side effects, such as:

More serious side effects – such as a raised, itchy red rash (urticaria or hives), swelling of the face and difficulty breathing – are rare.

If you develop any worrying symptoms after being vaccinated, contact your GP as soon as possible or call NHS 111 for advice.


Most people can have the Japanese encephalitis vaccination safely, but you should tell the doctor or nurse before being vaccinated if you have a high temperature (fever), or if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

The vaccination may need to be postponed if you have a fever. It may also not be recommended if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, due to the theoretical risk of problems resulting from the vaccine being passed to your baby.

The Japanese encephalitis vaccine isn’t normally recommended for children less than two months old, because it’s unclear how safe and effective it is for this age group.

You shouldn’t have the vaccine if you’ve had a severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) to it or any of its ingredients in the past.

Avoiding mosquito bites

As the vaccination against Japanese encephalitis isn’t 100% effective, you should protect yourself against mosquito bites while travelling or staying in at-risk areas by:

Insect repellent

Various types of insect repellent are available. Many contain diethyltoluamide (DEET), but some are available that contain dimethyl phthalate or eucalyptus oil, if you’re allergic to DEET.

When using insect repellent, make sure you:

If you or your children have a reaction to an insect repellent, such as redness, stop using it. Wash it off and contact your GP, or a local healthcare professional if you’re abroad.