Actually, the injections were fine. It was just the price list that made me flinch. I had no idea that some of them might be £200 per course. So–how do you find out whether you need any jabs before you travel–and what could it add to the cost of your trip?
For me, the first stop was my GP surgery, but there are walk-in travel advice centres in other parts of the country, and some big pharmacy chains offer travel vaccinations, too.
After I’d completed a form listing the countries on our itinerary, the next step was to arrange a double appointment with a practice nurse, to talk through each country and any prevalent health issues.
Scrolling through the alphabetical list of potential diseases for long distance travellers was a bit alarming. I don’t fancy diphtheria or dengue fever, thanks. Chikungunya fever and the Heps don’t sound too appealing, either. Or rabies; frankly. Moving on to the Ts is even more scary. Tsetese flies…typhoid….TB…
A calm head’s needed. Especially if it’s down to you to weigh up the advice you’re given, and down to you to pick up the jabs-tab, too.
In the UK, a good health adviser will research the countries on your list, often kicking off with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office http://www.gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo , linking to other websites for travellers and health professionals, such as http://www.travax.nhs.uk . There’s a mix of long-standing information for travellers and fast changing pieces of advice, based on the re-emergence of conditions like Ebola, or most recently, the Zika virus.
The jabs you will be offered are likely to be based on:
- Injections you’ve had in the past
- Any pre-existing medical conditions
- Where you’ll be travelling
- Whether you’ll be alone or with a group or companion
- How far you might be from a hospital or clinic
- Exactly what you might be thinking of getting up to…!
I was pleased to hear that some of the injections could be grouped together, and that some automatically fall under ‘free’ NHS treatment to registered patients in the UK…so…fresh from the surgery fridge last night, I received a triple shot against polio, diphtheria and tetanus at no charge. (And no…they don’t offer you a sugar-cube alternative any more!)
I’m back with the nurse in a couple of weeks to chat about Japanese encephalitis (risk or no risk…..?) and to consider how likely I might be, whilst clattering right through Vietnam by train, for example, to encounter a rabid dog on one of the stops. A rabid dog which might fancy biting me.
A bit later on we’ll plan protection against malaria; probably with a course of tablets to be taken a specific length of time before we hit the riskiest areas. I’ll ask for some advice, too about the best kind of repellent against such beasties.
+We’d love to hear from you if you’ve been through a similar process before a big trip. Which jabs did you have…and how much did they cost? Had you already factored in a few hundred pounds for vaccinations? What are your top tips for staying well while you’re travelling….and what would you include in a mini first-aid/keep well pack for along the way?