For a person who has a phobia of needles (well a phobia of passing out because of the needles), planning the travel vaccinations we needed for our Round the World trip gave me nightmares! As I knew there was no way of getting out of it, I threw myself into researching everything that we needed to know, what was free, what we needed to pay for and why we actually needed it.
*All this information is based on information available in February 2018 for South America, Northern America, Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, India and Europe. Follow the links for the latest information*
We started off by going to our local GP surgery and speaking with a nurse practitioner. They need to know what countries your going to, how long your there for and what you will be doing while your there. So it’s a good idea to take all this information with you. Be sure to go well in advance of your flight day as some jabs are over three courses. My nurse took the time to have a good look through my medical records for all my childhood vaccinations, that could be ticked off the list (MMR for example).
On my second visit to the nurse (because I wasn’t prepared to jump in on the first visit), I got the Diptheria, Polio and Tetanus (Combined Booster) then Typhoid and Hepatitis A in a combined injection. They didn’t particularly hurt but my arm was dead for about 3 days. However, the Mister’s was fine the next day! Hepatitis A and Typhoid are usually spread through contaminated food water and water and would cost approx £90 at a travel clinic. The NHS Travel Vaccinations website explains more about the free vaccinations.
Then it was time to part with our cash! We headed to Nomad Travel in Manchester which was recommended by both of our GP’s. Rabies was discussed first as this is a course of 3 injections that have to be one-two weeks apart. The mister was brave and got his first one that day. I on the other hand put it off for another week, with some random excuse that I didn’t have the money (slight lie!). Rabies is spread by bites, licks on open wounds and scratches. The intradermal rabies jab is cheaper than the intramuscular vaccine but this is best to discuss with them whats best for you. Our ID Rabies cost £45 per jab compared to £55 for IM from the NHS or travel clinics. Even with the jab, if you are bite you still need to clean the wound thoroughly and access medical care for 2 post-exposure jabs.
Onto Yellow Fever… this one is a must for South America and you are meant to show certification proving you have had it to enter the country (this wasn’t the case for us!). You need to have this 10 days before travelling but once you have had it you are covered for life. This disease is spread by infected mosquitoes in parts of South America. I was told that this one was really painful and makes you bruise like a peach! That’s not true, but I did have a dull headache for 4 days and had a very mild fever (going hot then cold). This costs £60 from Nomad Travel and included the cost of the yellow fever booklet. Some places charge extra for this so double check your not being ripped off.
One perk of working for the NHS is that we get Hepatitis B for free! However, we didn’t realise that there is actually a global shortage of Hep B, so the places that still have it in stock are tending to put their prices. Hep B is generally spread through unprotected sex and blood. Now if you are admitted to hospital this could be from a blood transfusion, dirty needles or piercings/tattoos. This is why sterile needle kits are suggested! Nomads Travel didn’t have it in stock so we luckily found that STA travel have it in stock and haven’t increased there prices.
Definitely don’t be afraid to have some of your jabs ‘on the road’ in well developed countries. They have Travel Clinics too. With Japanese Encephalitis, we are getting this jab in Australia before we head to South East Asia. Again, it’s spread through those pesky mosquitoes, but it is common in the farming areas. The two jabs have to be given a month apart, so as we are in Aus for 6 months so this is possible. This jab comes in at £95 from Nomad and I must admit I have seen prices much higher than this.
There the jabs we have had or are planning on getting but it genuinely doesn’t stop there. Malaria in low risk areas can be avoided by using repellents (we have been advised 50%+ DEET), sleeping under mosquito nets and covering up. However, in high risk places, malaria tablets are needed. Depending on which brand you get you either take 2-7 days prior to entering a malarial zone, all the time your there and 7-28 days afterwards. Were yet to buy these but will report back on our findings! As a person who doesn’t put any chemicals on my skin, I’m struggling with the idea of DEET but malaria is much worse I guess!
In summary, vaccinations are expensive but you can shop around. Make the most of the free jabs you get with the NHS, don’t be afraid to get jabs on the road to spread the cost too. Be prepared, stay healthy and enjoy every moment of your travels.
Go the distance on your travels