3 options for taking vaccinations in Singapore for study in the US

vaccinations in Singapore for study in the US
3 options for taking vaccinations in Singapore for study in the US | Photo by CDC on Unsplash

If you’re planning to study in the US, universities typically require you to take a number of vaccines in your home country before you head over. As the requirements differ at state level, this post serves only as a reference point and does not cover all vaccinations required. Here are 3 options for taking vaccinations in Singapore for study in the US.

Vaccine requirements

The university I am planning to attend is in Boston, Massachusetts. The key vaccinations required are:

  • Mumps, Measles and Rubella (MMR),
  • Varicella (a chickenpox vaccine)*,
  • Hepatitis B*,
  • TDAP (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), and
  • Meningococcal.

*For varicella and Hep B, a blood test can be done to determine if you have the antibodies. 

I am also required to do the Mantoux TB test. Do note that the Mantoux TB test can only be done 4 weeks after taking the varicella and MMR vaccines as they are live vaccines. However, you can take the Mantoux TB test and live vaccines on the same day.

Before doing anything: Request for your immunization records from the Health Promotion Board

If you are born in Singapore, you should have taken the MMR vaccine. To get proof of that, you could refer to your health booklet, or if you’re born after 1996, login to the National Immunization Registry to access your immunization records. If you were born before 1996 (like yours truly) and threw away your health booklet thinking that you wouldn’t need it, do write-in to the Health Promotion Board to request for your records. Their response to me was fast – kudos to them!

Decide: If you want a fast/ more expensive option or a cost-effective option which will take slightly longer.

Once you’ve got your immunization records, you can pick one of the options to take the vaccinations. You should be able to get all vaccinations at Tan Tock Seng’s Travellers Clinic and Raffles Medical. Raffles Medical has added convenience as you can do your Mantoux test on the same day, saving an additional trip to another clinic to do the Mantoux test. That said, their vaccinations cost more than the average clinic.

3 options for taking vaccinations in Singapore for study in the US

Option 1) Raffles Medical Health Check

The fast but more expensive option is to head to Raffles Medical to get the vaccinations and Mantoux test done at the same time. This definitely works if your company is sponsoring the vaccinations and tests. There are other cost-effective options such as visiting the Tan Tock Seng Traveller’s Clinic or your GP.

Pros:

  • You get all the vaccinations and test done within two sessions (assuming your Mantoux test reading is negative). Avoid visiting Raffles Hospital on Thursdays because the Mantoux test reading requires 2 days and Raffles Medical Health Check is not open on Sundays.

Cons: 

  • Prices would likely be higher than the TTS Traveller’s Clinic/ your family doctor. For example, based on their website, Varicella was priced at $200 at Raffles Medical. I paid $140 for two doses at my GP. TDAP was priced at $40 at Tan Tock Seng and it cost $99.79 at Raffles Medical.
  • The service at Raffles Medical Health Check isn’t great. Apparently the Mantoux test can only be done on the same day as the administration of live vaccines. This was not communicated to me and I went ahead to do the live vaccinations at my GP before doing the Mantoux test. As a result, I had to wait for 4 weeks before doing the Mantoux test, which was quite a bummer.

Contact details

Option 2) Tan Tock Seng Traveller’s Health & Vaccination Clinic (THVC)

Tan Tock Seng Traveller’s Clinic is probably the most cost-effective and convenient option given that they have stock of all the vaccines, including Meningococcal which is slightly harder to come by and may not be available at your GP. They can also help you do a blood test for chickenpox antibodies and Hepatitis B.

I visited the clinic during COVID-19 and was done with my immunizations within 30 minutes. The short waiting time could be due to fewer patients at the moment due to fall in travel demand.

Pros: 

  • The clinic has a wide variety of vaccinations.
  • The vaccination costs should be priced lower than that of Raffles Medical.
  • The clinic will also be able to help you take a blood test to determine if you have antibodies for chickenpox.
  • The nurse on duty was very knowledgeable about the vaccinations and requirements.

Cons: 

  • You will not be able to do the Mantoux test here. The Traveller’s Clinic will likely refer you to the Tan Tock Seng TB unit to make an appointment to do the test. This is slightly inconvenient as the TB unit is located some distance away from Tan Tock Seng hospital.

Contact details:

Option C) Your family doctor

Your family doctor may carry MMR, Varicella and TDAP vaccines – it depends so give them a call in advance to find out. I also think it helps to have a doctor you know certify on your medical report form that you have taken those vaccines.

Pros:

  • Likely to be more cost-effective as compared to Raffles Medical.

Cons:

  • You may not be able to get all vaccinations at the GP. For instance, you might have to go to the Tan Tock Seng Traveller’s clinic to get the vaccination for Meningococcal.

The Travelling Squid’s Take – Taking vaccinations in Singapore for study in the US

Raffles Medical may be the one-stop shop for all the vaccinations and Mantoux test, but their service isn’t great. That said, if you’re pressed for time, it’s still better to visit their clinic to get everything done at one go. If you don’t mind making an extra trip to get the Mantoux test done separately, I’ll definitely recommend the Tan Tock Seng Traveller’s clinic to get your vaccinations.

Hope you found this useful! Feel free to drop a comment if you have any recommendations.

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