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Vaccinations required for Laos

Traveling to South East Asia often means getting vaccinated and Laos is no exception.

In general, Laos is a safe country to travel. There are no compulsory vaccinations for Laos required by law for travelers from Western countries to gain entry.

While a trip to the country is an overall enjoyable and safe experience you may need a few vaccinations to go to Laos.

There is a certain list of vaccinations that you should have to make sure you stay safe in the country.

This article will give you the list of necessary vaccinations for your journey to Laos and some advice to stay healthy and safe in Laos.

There is also some recommendation in case you feel sick after coming back from your Laos adventure.

Let's check it out!

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Disclaimer: The following is a rough guide only. No website can tell you exactly what you need, as recommendations often change and depend on your health status and what you do in the country. You need to consult a doctor with expertise in travel medicine who can review your individual health issues. Don’t forget to ask for numbing cream if you are worried about pain from the injection

Diseases in Laos

First things first, we will check what diseases that you will most likely encounter during your Laos trip.

Hepatitis A

Spread through consuming contaminated food and water or person to person through the faecal-oral route.

Risk is higher where personal hygiene and sanitation is poor.

Risk is highest for those with underlying medical conditions where there is increased risk of severe disease e.g. chronic liver/kidney disease; haemophiliacs; men who have sex with men; people who inject drugs.

Hepatitis B

Spread through infected blood and blood products, contaminated needles and medical instruments and sexual intercourse.

Risk is higher for long stays, frequent travel and for children (exposed through cuts and scratches), those who may require medical treatment during travel.

Risk is highest for those with underlying medical conditions where there is increased risk of severe disease e.g. chronic liver/kidney disease; haemophiliacs; men who have sex with men; people who change partners frequently; people who inject drugs.

Malaria

Malaria is spread through mosquito bites. Symptoms include high fevers, shaking, chills, and flu-like illness. Without treatment, Malaria can cause severe illness and even death. There are several vaccines on the market, and you need to take these in advance of your travel as well as upon return.

Dengue

Dengue Fever is endemic throughout Laos with large outbreaks occurring every few years. While cases occur year-round, the rainy season is the peak transmission period. Symptoms may be mild to severe flu-like conditions and can result in death.

A vaccine has been developed and is available for people aged 9 to 45 years, but they must be living in endemic area. And it’s not recommended for people who’ve never had Dengue Fever. This particular mosquito is active during the daytime–so cover up.

Japanese Encephalitis

Spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. This mosquito breeds in rice paddies and mainly bites between dusk and dawn. Risk is highest for long stay travellers to rural areas, particularly if unable to avoid mosquito bites.

Rabies 

Spread through the saliva of an infected animal, usually through a bite, scratch or lick on broken skin. Particularly dogs and related species, and also cats and bats. Risk is higher for those going to remote areas (who may not be able to promptly access appropriate treatment in the event of a bite), long stays, those at higher risk of contact with animals and bats, and children.All travellers should avoid contact with animals (both wild and domestic) particularly dogs and cats. Even when pre-exposure vaccine has been received, urgent medical advice should be sought after any animal or bat bite.

Tetanus

Spread through contamination of cuts, burns and wounds with tetanus spores. Spores are found in soil worldwide. A total of 5 doses of tetanus vaccine are recommended for life in the UK. Boosters are usually recommended in a country or situation where the correct treatment of an injury may not be readily available.

Typhoid

Spread mainly through consumption of contaminated food and drink. Risk is higher where access to adequate sanitation and safe water is limited.

Cholera

Spread through consumption of contaminated water and food. It would be unusual for travelers to contract cholera if they take basic precautions with food and water and maintain a good standard of hygiene.

Risk is higher during floods and after natural disasters, in areas with very poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water.

Risk is highest for humanitarian aid workers; those working in refugee camps or slums; those caring for people with cholera.

Laos Travel Vaccinations

For most standard tourists, the usual recommended vaccinations for Laos include cover against the childhood diseases (Tetanus and Diphtheria, Measles, Mumps and Rubella) as well as cover against the food borne diseases of Typhoid and Hepatitis A. For those trekking in the Laos countryside or staying for longer periods then cover against Hepatitis B and Rabies should be considered.

Most travelers should start their vaccines about 4 to 6 weeks before they leave for Laos. However, those planning a longer visit, or where their planned trip is likely to bring them to more rural parts of Laos, should attend earlier to ensure that they have sufficient time to complete the vaccine courses.

Malaria prophylaxis may need to be considered depending on the expected itinerary.

Check the table to have more idea of what immunizations you should have depending on the places you visit and what you plan to do.

Vaccine Staying in the Cities Exploring Rural Laos Visiting Border Regions Hiking and Trekking
Tetanus
Typhoid
Hepatitis A
Hepatitis B      
Meningococcal      
Tuberculosis      
Japanese Encephalitis      
Malaria      
Rabies      
Dengue Fever Optional Optional Optional Optional

 

The below list of vaccinations is based on the recommendation from CDC. You can check more detail HERE

All travelers

Measles

  • Infants (6 through 11 months old): 1 dose of measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine before travel. This dose does not count as the first dose in the routine childhood vaccination series.
  • People 12 months old or older, with no evidence of immunity or no written documentation of any doses: 2 doses of MMR vaccine before travel. The 2 doses must be given 28 days apart.
  • People 12 months old or older who have written documentation of 1 dose and no other evidence of immunity: 1 additional dose before travel, at least 28 days after the previous dose.

Routine vaccines

Make sure you are up to date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot.

Most travelers

Hepatitis A

CDC recommends this vaccine because you can get hepatitis A through contaminated food or water in Laos, regardless of where you are eating or staying.

Typhoid

You can get typhoid through contaminated food or water in Laos. CDC recommends this vaccine for most travelers, especially if you are staying with friends or relatives, visiting smaller cities or rural areas, or if you are an adventurous eater.

Some travelers

Japanese Encephalitis

You may need this vaccine if your trip will last more than a month, depending on where you are going in Laos and what time of year you are traveling. You should also consider this vaccine if you plan to visit rural areas in Laos or will be spending a lot of time outdoors, even for trips shorter than a month. Your doctor can help you decide if this vaccine is right for you based on your travel plans. See more in-depth information on Japanese encephalitis in Laos.

Hepatitis B

You can get hepatitis B through sexual contact, contaminated needles, and blood products, so CDC recommends this vaccine if you might have sex with a new partner, get a tattoo or piercing, or have any medical procedures.

Malaria

When traveling in Laos, you should avoid mosquito bites to prevent malaria. You may need to take prescription medicine before, during, and after your trip to prevent malaria, depending on your travel plans, such as where you are going, when you are traveling, and if you are spending a lot of time outdoors or sleeping outside.

Talk to your doctor about how you can prevent malaria while traveling. Areas of Laos with risk of malaria: Present throughout the country, including Siem Reap city. None in the city of Phnom Penh or at the temple complex at Angkor Wat. 

Rabies

Rabies can be found in dogs, bats, and other mammals in Laos, so CDC recommends this vaccine for the following groups:

  • Travelers involved in outdoor and other activities (such as camping, hiking, biking, adventure travel, and caving) that put them at risk for animal bites.
  • People who will be working with or around animals (such as veterinarians, wildlife professionals, and researchers).
  • People who are taking long trips or moving to Laos
  • Children, because they tend to play with animals, might not report bites, and are more likely to have animal bites on their head and neck.

Yellow Fever

Required if traveling from a country with risk of YF virus transmission and ≥1 year of age, including transit >12 hours in an airport located in a country with risk of YF virus transmission.

Stay safe & healthy in Laos

Although Laos is a safe place to visit, there is a certain number of safety notices and precautions that you need to follow to have a smooth journey.

Below you can find some extra notices from CDC to help you have a healthy trip in Laos (or everywhere)

Eat and Drink Safely

Laos is renowned for its wonderful food, and there are thousands of street stalls and markets offering all sorts of delicious treats. However contaminated food and water can cause traveler’s diarrhea and other gastrointestinal illnesses such as Typhoid and Hepatitis A.

  • Food: CDC recommends consuming food that is properly cooked and served hot, ensuring fruit and vegetables are washed in clean water, avoiding food from street vendors, not consuming unpasteurized dairy products, and not eating “bush-meat” (monkeys, bats, or other wild game).
  • Water: Presume water from any tap, well, or other local sources, as non-potable. Use bottled or treated water for consumption and when brushing your teeth and rinsing your mouth. Never assume that ice is made from filtered water.

Prevent Insect Bites

Some viruses and illnesses in Laos are contracted by insects, particularly mosquitoes. Here are some insect avoidance tips.

  • Sleep in insect-proof or air-conditioned rooms
  • Wear long-sleeved clothing, long pants, and hats outdoors, day and night, especially at dawn and sunset
  • Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks, and tents
  • Use personal repellents on exposed skin–the most effective mosquito and tick repellents contain DEET; look for a minimum 20%
  • Avoid dark-colored clothing and strong scents such as perfume, aftershave, and perfumed cosmetics and deodorants as these may attract mosquitoes
  • Ensure large amounts of standing water is not left around unnecessarily

Stay away from Animals

In Laos there are many street dogs and cats that may not have been immunized. Generally, they don’t bother people unless they feel threatened or their territory has been invaded. Animal bites and scratches can lead to serious diseases such as Rabies.

Even cute puppies, monkeys, cats, and bats can carry the disease, so avoid touching or feeding animals you don’t know. If you’re bitten or scratched seek medical advice immediately.

Avoid Sharing Body Fluids

Diseases and viruses such as Hepatitis B, HIV and Aids, and TB may be passed by the exchange of body fluids. Practice safe sex don’t share needles, and ensure any medical instruments used are sterile.

Reduce Exposure to Germs

Good hygiene practices help you avoid sickness and spreading illnesses to others. Wash your hands often, especially before eating. Carry hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing. If possible avoid contact with people who are sick or if you’re sick.

Healthy travel packing list for Laos

Packing a basic health kit is a good idea no matter where you are going, and truly imperative if you have any sort of health conditions or take regular medications.

  • Personal medical essentials plus Epi Pen if necessary
  • Copies of all your prescriptions/immunizations and your doctor’s phone number
  • First aid kit: Imodium, ibuprofen, paracetamol, tums/antacid tablets, Benadryl
  • Allergy meds, asthma inhalers, & eye drops
  • An adequate supply of prescription medications (knowing the generic name comes in handy)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Anti-diarrheal tablets
  • Antibiotic cream/ointment
  • Anti-malarial if necessary (check with your doctor and the CDC/WHO before going)
  • Anti-itch cream for bug bites
  • Tiger balm (for headaches/muscle soreness/sinus issues)
  • Band-Aids/bandages
  • Mints or ginger to aid digestion and upset stomach
  • Essential oils/travel diffuser for wellness regimen

Check the full list of Healthy Packing List from CDC HERE

You may want to learn more about Laos travel packing list

In case of serious health problem

Because most medical treatment is piss-poor in Laos, having an idea of where you’d like to get care before you’re in an accident is a good idea.

If your accident is serious, you will need to go to Bangkok or Singapore. Make sure you will have insurance for Laos especially if you plan to join any active or sporty activities.

Local options include Alliance International Medical Center, the one clinic in town that is to “international standards”, although some reports indicate that they still leave a lot to be desired. (T: +856(0)2055529711).

You will find below the list of hospital in some tourist sites in Laos. Just keep it handy in case you need it.

You can either check the extended list of hospitals for tourists/foreigner in Laos HERE

List of hospitals at some tourist sites in Laos

You can find below our list of recommended hospitals and clinics at some tourist sites. You can also check the extended list HERE.

Vientiane

Mittaphab (Friendship) Hospital

Mittaphab Hospital is well known by the many foreign tourists. They have English speaking staff, in case you are a foreigner.

Noticeable Points

  • It’s a public facility.
  • Speaking English staff
  • Specialization is in internal medicine, pediatrics, OBGYN and infertility, ophthalmology, X-ray, echo ultrasound, ECG, and EKG, mammogram, laboratory facilities, and mental health
  • Operate 24/24 hours emergency service including ambulance

CONTACT

  • Address: Phontong Road, Ban Phonsavang, Vientiane, Laos
  • Tel: +856(0)21710005/ +856 (0) 21710006

Alliance International Medical Center

The Alliance International Medical Centre is the newest medical center in Vientiane.

Noticeable Points:

  • The facilities at the center include a pharmacy, laboratory, X-ray equipment, ultrasound, and mammogram equipment. This alliance has worked out well and the facility, speaking staff, is the height of modernity.
  • The Alliance is offered Diabetes and Hypertension specialists, Pediatrics and child development specialists, a women’s clinic, optical specialists, a skin care center, and a health check-up center. You can make the payments by Visa or Mastercard.
  • The opening hours are Monday to Saturday from 8:00 am to 8.00 pm.

CONTACT

  • Address: Honda New Chip Xeng Centre on Souphanouvong Rd, Wattaiyai Thong, Sikhotttabong District, Vientiane Capital.
  • Tel: +856(0)2055529711/ +856(0)2054613492.
  • Fax: +856(0) 21513096
  • Email: [email protected] com

Australian Embassy Clinic

This famous clinic is also a recommended place with a team of professional doctors from Australia, Britain, Canada, and New Zealand. However, it doesn’t have emergency facilities.

Noticeable Points:

  • English speaking staff
  • A private facility
  • Pay by cash or credit card
  • The opening hours are from Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 12.30 pm and 1.30 pm to 5.00 pm.

CONTACT

  • Address: Km 4, Thadeua Road, Ban Watnak, P.O. Box 292, Vientiane
  • Tel: +856(0)21353840

Centre Medical de L’ Ambassade de France

Noticeable Points:

  • English speaking staff
  • Private facility
  • Specializations are as a primary care center with orthopedic, dermatology, general pediatrics, and gynecology, cardiology, echography, dentistry, physiotherapy, psychotherapy, speech therapy, house nursing care.
  • The opening hours are from Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30 am to 19:00 pm, Wednesday 8.30 am to 17:00 pm, Saturday from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, Sunday from 9:00 am -12: 00 pm and 1.30 pm to 5.00 pm.

CONTACT

  • Address: Kouvieng Road, Ban Simuang, Vientiane
  • Tel: +856(0)21214150 / +856(0) 21215713
  • Emergency Tel (24 hours): +856(0)2056554794
  • Mail: [email protected]

Luang Prabang

Phakhan’s Clinic

Noticeable Points:

  • English speaking staff
  • Private facility
  • The opening hours are from Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8:30 am to 19:00 pm, Wednesday 8.30 am to 17:00 pm, Saturday from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, Sunday from 9:00 am -12: 00 pm and 1.30 pm to 5.00 pm.

CONTACT

  • Address: Phoumork Village Luang Prabang, 06000
  • Tel.: 020 59 822 895

Luang Prabang Provincial Hospital

Noticeable Points:

  • English and Chinese speaking staff
  • A public facility
  • Specialization is in internal medicine, X-ray, echo ultrasound, dermatology, MCH ward, pediatric ward, emergency, ICU.
  • The opening hours are from Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm and 1.30 pm – 4:00 pm.
  • 24/24 hours emergency service including ambulance

CONTACT

  • Address: a few km outside of the center at Ban Phoumok, Luang Prabang District, Luang Prabang Province
  • Tel:+8561(0)71254026
  • Emergency Tel.: +856(0)302009379
  • Reception Tel.: +856 (0)71254027

Getting sick after your trip

Sometimes, travelers come home with more than souvenirs. Some travel-related illnesses may not cause symptoms until after you get home. Fortunately, most after-travel illnesses are mild and not a concern, such as a head cold or an upset stomach.

If you feel sick when coming back from Laos, you need to see your doctor immediately.

Below are some of the popular problems that may come back with you from your adventure in Laos.

Fever

If you have been in a country with malaria and develop a fever within a month after you come home, see a doctor immediately. Most fevers are caused by less serious illnesses. But because malaria is a medical emergency, your doctor must first rule it out. A fever could be malaria even if you took antimalarial medicine, because the medicine is not 100% effective. Most malaria develops within 30 days, but rare cases can lie dormant for a year or longer. So always tell your doctor about any travel you have done, even if it was months ago.

Persistent Diarrhea

Most cases of diarrhea go away by themselves in a few days but see your doctor if you have diarrhea that lasts for 2 weeks or more. Persistent diarrhea can make you lose nutrients and is often caused by a parasitic infection that might need to be treated with special drugs.

Skin Problems

Skin problems (rashes, boils, fungal infections, bug bites) are among the most common illnesses reported by people who have returned from international travel. Most skin problems are not serious, but they may be a sign of a serious illness, especially if you also have a fever.

At the Doctor

Be sure to tell your doctor about your travel, including where you went and what you did on your trip. This information will help your doctor consider infections that are rare or not found in the United States. Make sure to include all relevant details:

  • What you did on your trip.
  • How long you were gone.
  • Where you stayed (fancy hotel, private home, tent).
  • What you ate and drank while you were there.
  • Whether you were bitten by bugs or animals.
  • Whether you swam in fresh water.
  • Whether you received health care abroad.
  • Any other possible exposures (sex, tattoos, piercings).
NOT READY YET?

We believe you have the right to arm yourselves with as much information as possible before making any decision.

Check below our detailed tips & guide for every places to visit in Laos, recommendation regarding the inclusion in each theme you prefer, and what you can do based on the time frame you have.

PLACES TO VISIT IN Laos
Luang Prabang
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The ancient capital of Lane Xang Kingdom

Vang Vieng
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Vientiane
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The ancient capital of Lane Xang Kingdom

4000 Islands
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Phonsavan
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Nong Khiaw
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Laos PLANS BY TRAVEL THEME
Family
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The combination of fun and educational activities

Cycling
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Explore every corners of the destination on two wheels

Must-see
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Check out all the must-see places and things to do & see

Luxury
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Unique experience combined with top-notch services

Honeymoon
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Easy excursions combined with unique experience making the long-lasting romantic memories

Trek & Hike
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Explore the least visited destinations and unknown experience on foot

Cruise
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The combination of some must-see experience and the cruise tour along the mighty rivers

Unseen
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Reveal off-the-beatentrack routes, least explored destinations, and unknown tribe groups

Laos PLANS BY TIME FRAME
white-icon About 1 week
yellow-icon About 1 week
white-icon About 2 weeks
yellow-icon About 2 weeks
white-icon About 3 weeks
yellow-icon About 3 weeks
white-icon About 4 weeks
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SPECIAL Laos TIPS & TOURS

Search for your nationality below to see our special Laos travel tips & advice for your country. CONTACT US if you cannot find yours.

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Laos BLOG ARTICLES

On June 7th, 2012, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has eased travel recommendations for more than a hundred countries and territories, including Vietnam and Laos in the list of "safest to travel".

Time to travel now? We do not think so! Let's check more detail below.

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Bucolic Wat Phou (Wat Phu, Vat Phou, Vat Phu) sits in graceful decrepitude, and while it lacks the arresting enormity of Angkor in Cambodia, given its few visitors and more dramatic natural setting, these small Khmer ruins evoke a more soulful response. While some buildings are more than 1000 years old, most date from the 11th to 13th centuries. The site is divided into six terraces on three levels joined by a frangipani-bordered stairway ascending the mountain to the main shrine at the top.

Visit in the early morning for cooler temperatures (it gets really hot during the day, and on the lower levels there isn't any shade) and to capture the ruins in the best light. Make sure to grab a map at the entrance as there is little to no signage here.

...more

Buddhist Lent Day (Thailand Wan Khao Phansa, Laos Boun Khao Phansa) is the start of the three-month period during the rainy season when monks are required to remain in a particular place such as a monastery or temple grounds. Here, they will meditate, pray, study, and teach other young monks. In the past, monks were not even allowed to leave the temple, but today, most monks just refrain from traveling during this period. You will still see them out during the day.

It is said that monks started remaining immobile in a temple during this time because they wanted to avoid killing insects and harming farmland. Apparently, traveling monks were crossing through fields, thus destroying the crops of villagers and farmers. After catching wind of this, Buddha decided that in order to avoid damaging crops, hurting insects, or harming themselves during the rainy season, monks should remain in their temples during these three months.

Tired of reading, listen to our podcast below:

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Initiated in 2006 by an NGO working for years with the elephants, this annual meeting of Laos Elephant Festival became one of the big festivals of Laos, followed by thousands of Laotians who move to attend a number of exercises, parades, and elections of the most emblematic animal of Laos. Fifty elephants are walking around for 3 days in the streets of the small provincial town. A large market takes place for the occasion with all kind of local (or Thai) products.

Home to the country’s largest pachyderm population, Xayabouly Province is the natural choice to host this growing event that also aims to raise awareness about the need to protect the endangered Asian elephant, which has played such a vital role in Lao people’s livelihoods, culture and heritage.

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The highlight of the year in Wat Phu Champasak is the three-day Buddhist festival, held on Magha Puja day on the full moon of the third lunar month, usually in February. The ceremonies culminate on the full-moon day with an early-morning offering of alms to monks, followed that evening by a candlelit wéean téean (circumambulation) of the lower shrines.

Throughout the three days of the festival Lao visitors climb around the hillside, stopping to pray and leave offerings of flowers and incense. The festival is more commercial than it once was, and for much of the time has an atmosphere somewhere between a kids' carnival and music festival. Events include kick-boxing matches, boat races, cockfights, comedy shows and plenty of music and dancing, as bands from as far away as Vientiane arrive. After dark the beer and lòw-lów (Lao whisky) flow freely and the atmosphere gets pretty rowdy.

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When the three months of Buddhist Lent come to an end in October, it is the perfect time to visit temples and celebrate the end of the rainy season. In Laos, this is called Boun Awk Phansa (Sometimes translated as Boun Ok Phansa or Boun Ock Phansa) and various religious and local traditions can be observed during this time. Moreover, there are plenty of festive activities are organized throughout the country with floating flower boats, candles, fireworks, lavishly decorated wats and an old-time carnival … all make for a magical Boun Awk Phansa festival in Laos. 

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Prefer listening to reading? Check the PodCast of this article as below:

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