Travel Vaccinations

So, vaccinations. The pain in the **** that we all inevitably must go through should we not wish to contract any nasties abroad.

It took me a while to figure out what I needed and what was a possibility, the thing is it’s like catching a common cold it really is down to chances,the precautions you take and the preparations you make.

Ever remember the coloured balls in a bag in primary school, the one that the teacher used to illustrate the possibility of you choosing a red one 3 times in a row??  If you don’t make the right choices (because they are choices and it’s only you that can make them) then the possibility of pulling that red infected ball out of the bag will be more likely. Well that is unless you are a mozzie magnet, the reasons for this are inconclusive but the precautions recommended are pretty much the same wherever you look.

Firstly it’s important to figure out a rough itinerary, just a rough guide of which countries you will be going to and how long you will be there. Most of the travel information you will find or be given specifies certain provinces that you will/will not be at risk of catching a nasty, but in truth the only thing to do with that information will be to take extra precautions. For example Malaria prophylaxis there are some areas that you are more at risk than others, but the common advice given is just to continue taking anti-malaria medication and precautions the whole time you are in an “at risk” country. It is also advisable (depending on the antimalarial used) to take them for 1 to 2 weeks after you exit the risk areas.

Consider the route in which you are travelling, I am going Australia to Asia so the vaccination prep will be different than if I was going Asia to Australia (this will be explained a little further down).

Things to know about vaccinations/immunisations (V/I’s) –

  • You NEED them;
  • They’re expensive;
  • Oral immunisations and some subcutaneous injections (under the skin) effectiveness reduces over time;
  • They need to be done in enough time before you travel to any risk areas;
  • They are not a shield of armour, you still need to protect yourself in other ways;
  • Antimalarials are NOT a vaccine, they are a preventative measure.

Once you have your plan (even a vague one at that), lets face it it’s supposed to be an adventure…right? DO NOT go straight to a travel clinic and tell them your itinerary, they will fleece you like there’s no tomorrow.

See your GP Practice Nurse because there are a number of essentials that are given free without much explanation, be careful though there are some that your surgery can charge for if they wish. This  NHS website gives a guide on what you may/may not need to pay for (check before you let them stab you),  please note that not all can be provided at the GP surgery and you may have to use a specialist travel clinic.

There are websites run by the NHS such as the Fit For Travel website that offers interactive maps that show you V/I’s recommended and helpful .PDF downloads with extra precautions.

The clinics I have found that have the best prices are Well Travelled or MASTA clinics, these links take you to their price pages. For antimalarials the NHS website here gives details of the most popular types of tablet, they are all very different in the way in which they are taken as well as in price. You can also shop around on line for the best price with your private prescription, there are some you may not even need a prescription for. WARNING – check that any sites are legitimate and registered, e.g. Lloyds Pharmacy.

It took me hours of searching and re-searching to find these websites so I thought I’d make them a little easier to find for those reading my blog.

So what about me?…

Because our route (Australia, India, Nepal, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand) means we will not be entering Asia for 12 months we have decided to have some V/I’s here and buy some in Australia. The reasons being cost and effectiveness over time.

What we have had/intend to get here (click the links for more information):

The Hepatitis courses must be given over 7 months or more (first, second a month later, third 6 months later), however, if you are pressed for time you can have an accelerated course (like I did) that involves 3 injections a month apart and then a booster when you return to the UK.

I will be getting the antimalarial Doxycycline before I travel – because it’s cheap, it covers all areas of my travel and will act as a substitute to take in place of my closely related Tetralysal acne medication. It is hard to judge malaria medication as some places you will find have developed a resistance to certain medications, I used Fit For Travel to create this LIST that helped me chose.

Others we need we have decided to get in Australia, the cost is not much different but we do not need to pay out of our savings (we have working visa’s and can pay out of what we earn). Plus certain V/I’s lose effectiveness in time since it was administered (100% > 80% > 60% .. and so on). I have found some helpful sites for prices of these vaccines, I also emailed them and received helpful responses about how easy it is to get over there.

This is what we will be having in Australia a few months before we leave (the Fit for Travel website has details of how to avoid contracting any of these), click the name to be redirected to the NHS website that explains in detail what each condition is:

Some Australian websites (up to date at the time I looked in November 2012) that give an idea of prices are:

  1. Travel Vaccines;
  2. University of Newcastle;
  3. The Travel Doctor.

Some other websites I’ve found quite informative:

DISCLAIMER – Everything I have talked about in this post is based on my research for my own preparations as well as personal opinion. It is based on my experience and requirements and is only intended to inform people of some of the many options and information for vaccines and immunisations available and is in no way an instruction to anyone who reads it.

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