It’s vaccination time.
Yesterday, I had three jabs. Two in my left arm (hepatitis A and B in the same injection, and Japanese B encephalitis) and one in my right arm (rabies). These are the first of three jabs for these diseases needing a set time period between them: day 0, day 7 and day 28. I will also have a single jab for typhoid and yellow fever, two for tick-borne encephalitis, two liquid doses for cholera and finally I have a prescription for a course of anti-malarial pills… I have a whole schedule written down as it’s a little confusing. Plus they’ll only do a max of four jabs in one session, and the vaccine has to be in stock, so it’s a bit of a balancing act. Including an initial appointment to discuss the countries I’m going to and which vaccines are necessary, I need 6 appointments in total. I gave myself two months to do this before we intend to leave Sheffield.
Some of these are free on the NHS, and some are not (Japanese B encephalitis, rabies, tick-borne encephalitis, yellow fever). It’s cheaper through the NHS of course but as Mischa is finding out, it’s problematic simply getting the initial discussion appointment. The receptionist’s advice if you want it done quicker: “just go private”. Luckily for me the uni health centre is on the ball with a travel clinic.
Many of these vaccinations last for a long time (life/25yrs) and some just a couple of years like Japanese B encephalitis and rabies, both of which aren’t free. We will also need to do a couple of booster jabs when we get home to make some last even longer! And the rabies vaccine isn’t really a vaccine, all it does is give you a bit more time to get to the hospital before it kills you…
I wasn’t sure how necessary the anti-malarial pills were, but chatting to the doctors and my own sensible brain it’s much better to be safe than sorry. Most of the countries we’re visiting are “low to no risk” in the touristy parts. However, for Cambodia and Laos as soon as you leave the capitals (and Siem Reap/Angkor Wat in Cambodia) it rises to a “low risk”. With our intention of volunteering and staying with locals, we’ll be more prone apparently. I have enough tablets for 5 weeks in these two countries.
Yellow fever is common in South America and parts of Africa, so we don’t need it, right? Wrong. Turns out if you want to travel by cargo ship, most (if not all) require you to carry the certificate, meaning we have to be vaccinated for it too. And this one is live, whereas the rest are dead.
If you’re going travelling then a good website to check is Fit For Travel on which you can search the country you’re going too as well as see the latest outbreaks.