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Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine

What is Japanese encephalitis?

Japanese encephalitis is a serious infection caused by a virus present in many parts of Asia. The Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is spread between mosquitoes and animals such as pigs and wading birds. If an infected mosquito bites a human, it can lead to infection and illness. The infection cannot be spread from person to person.

Most people who become infected have no symptoms, but a small number experience fever and headache. The most common complication of JEV infection is encephalitis, or swelling of the brain. About 25 percent of cases with severe encephalitis infections can result in death.

What is the Japanese encephalitis vaccine?

The Japanese encephalitis vaccine is an inactivated vaccine that is very effective at preventing infection. It is a two-dose vaccine administered 4 weeks apart; the second dose must be completed at least one week before travel.

Who should get the Japanese encephalitis vaccine?

The Japanese encephalitis vaccine is recommended for travelers age 17 and older who plan to live or travel to asia in rural areas where the virus is prevalent.

Who should not get the Japanese encephalitis vaccine?

  • Those with moderate or severe illness (for example, a severe cold, flu or infection of the sinuses or lungs) should not receive the vaccine until symptoms of the illness improve.
  • Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant should ask their doctor if they should receive the vaccine.
  • Those with a history of developing a rash or wheezing after being stung by a wasp or after taking certain medications
  • Those who previously had a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction to the vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine should not be vaccinated.

What are the side effects of the Japanese encephalitis vaccine?

Mild-to-moderate problems

  • Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
  • Headache and muscle aches

Severe Problems (Rare)

  • High fever or behavior changes.
  • Difficulty breathing, hoarseness or wheezing, hives, paleness, weakness, a fast heartbeat or dizziness

Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help ease pain and reduce fever.

It is extremely rare for this vaccine to cause serious harm or death. If the person getting the vaccine has a serious reaction, call the doctor or seek immediate medical attention.

The Japanese encephalitis vaccine is available at Walgreens Pharmacy. Ages vary by state.

Walk in or schedule an appointment at the location nearest you.

Call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at 800-232-4636 or visit the CDC website, at, for more vaccine information.


Atkinson W, Hamborsky J, McIntyre L, Wolfe S, eds. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Epidemiology and Prevention of Vaccine-Preventable Diseases. 10th ed. Washington, DC: Public Health Foundation, 2012.

Vaccine Information Statement: Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine (What You Need to Know) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 01/24/2014. Accessed July 2014.