No needle is too long or too expensive to ensure a safe travel experience.
Use a Travel Clinic
You can get some good information from your normal doctor and the internet, but nothing beats a visit to a specialized travel clinic. The nurses there are specially trained and experienced with the vaccination requirements of each country, certain health hazards to be aware of and they are just really good at administering the shots! This may cost around $50-100 per person, which doesn’t include the price of the vaccinations but is well worth it for the personalized consultation and attention.
Do Your Homework
Trust your medical clinic to know and explain each vaccination to you, but it wont hurt to go on the web and have an idea of what you are walking into. Get an idea of what vaccinations you think you may need and which shots other travelers going to the same areas received. Write down any questions ahead of time and call your insurance company to see if they cover travel vaccinations. Depending on your insurance they may even cover all of your vaccinations!
Find Your Vaccination History
Go through your records and old medical documents to ensure you have a record of all of your lifetime vaccinations. Some of the shots you might need a booster in if you haven’t had them in the past 10 years, tetanus and polio are two that we specifically needed. If you dont have copies of this at home call your doctor and ask to have copies faxed over as proof.
Make a Consultation Appointment Early
I suggest 6 months at least. You might need 7-10 vaccinations depending on your history and the number of countries you are visiting. Some of the vaccinations take multiple appointments spread out over a period of time. For example, Hepatitis B is a series of 3-4 shots over a few months and Hepatitis A requires a second dose six months after the first for 100% immunity.
Read the Information From the Clinic (or at least skim it)
If your clinic is good and thorough they will send you home with piles of information on safety precautions, maps of malaria, and hospitals you can go to in each country. We have packets full of information and plan to read through it, highlight the important information and scan it into the computer so we will have it in our email for emergencies. If you have a long flight to kickstart your trip this will make great in-flight reading and will ensure you fall asleep in your seat after you read it. 🙂
Follow the Instructions
If your doctor says to start pills 3 days prior or keep the medicine refrigerated then DO IT. Go back for your second and third round of vaccinations for 100% coverage. There is nothing like coming down with a contagious disease to put a damper on your trip. There is a reason that you need to plan for a safe travel and one read through the pile of information will ensure you do everything possible to avoid disease.
As our nurse said, don’t let fear of disease keep you from visiting any place in the world. Get the information, do your preparation and get out there and travel safely!