GringosAbroad Ecuador

Reader Question: What Vaccines Will I Need In Cuenca?

Posted in: Cuenca Ecuador, Living in Ecuador

Last week, we received this inquiry from a reader. There is lots of confusion about what types of vaccinations are needed. Months ago, we published Super Germ-Fighting Family that covered some of the concerns and decisions we made about health, before we moved here.

Reader question: (inset)

I am wondering what vaccinations you had or recommend having prior to arriving in Cuenca. I will arrive sometime in June 2011. My travel office here is saying I need the following to the tune of about $350 US dollars – is that true or do I need only some?

  1. Yellow fever
  2. Typhoid
  3. Malaria pills
  4. Tetanus
  5. Diphtheria
  6. Hep A/B

Thanks so much for your advice…..


Good question. From our experience, the travel clinics don’t really know what they are talking about. They have books and charts, but they are only good for sticking the needles, not telling you the ones you need. And they (the for-profit ones, at least) have a significant conflict of interest – where the more needles they give, the more they get to charge you.

If you are coming (only) to Cuenca, Ecuador you don’t need to worry about yellow fever (its east, in the jungle) or malaria (its primarily west, on the coast, but can exist in the jungle).

Typhoid is a good idea, and isn’t too expensive. Tetanus should be up-to-date where you live, as should Hep A/B. They are just standard ones, regardless of where you live. Diphtheria is a standard vaccine, I believe.

When we moved, we even got rabies shots. They are crazy expensive, and as it turns out, we didn’t really need them. Our vaccines (in Canada) for the 3 of us, cost more than $2000. Ouch!

About Yellow Fever: If you don’t get the shot, there are some limits on where you can travel from Ecuador. Like, for example, just about everywhere else in South America. The other countries don’t care that you were only in Cuenca – because Ecuador has it, they consider you as having it, unless you can produce the certificate to show that you have the shot. If you are returning to Canada or the United States, its not a concern.

Please keep in mind that I am NOT a doctor. I am only sharing my experience. Do your research and talk to the clinic again. We called a couple different clinics and ended up going with the most knowledgeable one. Hope this helps.


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Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with GringosAbroad.

12 comments… add one
  • Don Aug 28, 2013, 10:53 am

    If we plan on going to Machu Picchu in Peru following our September 2013 visit to Cuenca, any idea if we need a yellow fever shot to enter Peru if we’ve only been to Cuenca and Guayaquil in Ecuador? Thanks for the post.

    • Bryan Haines Aug 28, 2013, 11:10 am

      Good question. I’ve heard conflicting reports. As I understand it, they don’t care what part of the country you’ve been to – only which countries. That being said, the rules are not always enforced the same way. You should speak with someone who recently entered the same way you are planning on (bus or plane). This is probably the best source of information.

      • Paul Acee Oct 10, 2014, 11:19 am

        A Yellow Fever shot can be had in Ecuador for $10.00 from what I’ve read.

  • Matthew Barker Aug 11, 2011, 9:26 am

    Hi, Bryan and Dena.

    I’m travelling to Cuenca shortly from the UK to teach English at CEDEI. I’ve just been reading your advice as I’ve booked myself in for a Yellow Fever jab next week at a cost of £55! I perhaps won’t bother. I see that you’re into mountain biking. Me too. Although, unfortunately, I have had to sell my mountain bike to help finance my trip! But, perhaps I could pick up an old clunker in Cuenca from somewhere and maybe we could head out for a ride some time!

    Kind regards

    Matt Barker

  • Rose Jun 24, 2011, 3:29 pm

    I was recently checking out airfares to come to Cuenca. I was shock at the amount of time you have to wait in Quito (7-13 hours) in order to get a flight to Cuenca. Do you know of a way to cut down this waiting time other than spending a night at a hotel in Quito. If spending an overnight in Quito is the only way around this great waste of time, where should I stay. Please offer a couple of suggestions. Also, which airlines offer the best deals to Cuenca from the states.


  • Elizabeth Apr 20, 2011, 8:55 am

    I was wondering about earthquake concerns?

    • Bryan Haines Apr 20, 2011, 9:38 am

      Hi Elizabeth,Well, earthquakes do happen, but not in recent memory. Cuenca has not been destroyed by an earthquake, and its hundreds of years old. Riobamba – a town to the north – has been destroyed a few times in past centuries. We've felt tremors in Cuenca at least twice. And if I remember correctly, they were connected to volcanic activity in the North. You're probably safer here than in Southern California. Honestly, it isn't a concern – especially in the south of the country.

  • Judy Passos Apr 18, 2011, 10:10 am

    Bryan……I'm curious about your comment regarding what you paid for immunizations here in Canada. You mentioned it cost you $2000.00. I am Canadian and have never been charged for immunizations and I'm wondering if this has changed somehow?


    • Sherril Aug 29, 2011, 3:54 pm

      I believe standard vaccinations like diptheria/tetanus/polio are still free in Canada, but travel clinics now charge for visits, as well as vaccinations.

  • Sherril Aug 29, 2011, 4:02 pm

    I have been checking out vaccinations for Cuenca and seem to have arrived at the same conclusions as Bryan. Yellow fever and malaria are not necessary; typhoid is a good idea. If one later decides to travel to lower-altitude mosquito areas, perhaps yellow fever and malaria vaccinations are significantly cheaper in Cuenca?

  • Sherril Aug 30, 2011, 2:53 pm

    Following is the address of a good website about travel vaccines, which are listed in an easy-to-read chart:


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