As I leave the travel clinic I am acutely aware of the mild throbbing in both of my arms. I think with wonder how cool it is that my body is currently learning how to fend off both Rabies and Japanese Encephalitis, all from a few little needles.
For those of you who are like “ewww needles!???”, this post is for you. I used to think that travel vaccines were a nice to have, like an “optional” item on my packing list. However, the more I have travelled and the more I have learned, I have realized that spending a few minutes getting yourself vaccinated can save you from worry, save your trip, and save your life in some cases.
I understand that some vaccines can be very expensive. The last visit I made to the travel clinic cost me more than $1000! Breathe in. Breathe out. Now I am more fortunate than most, I have a benefit plan that covered some of the costs. For me getting these vaccines is a no brainer, especially because I am also not overly afraid of needles (I know for some this is a huge sticking point – no pun intended haha!). For others, the cost of these vaccines can present a major barrier to safe and healthy travel.
The good news is that the vaccines and medications you need are highly variable. It totally depends where in the world you are going, what you are doing, and for how long. For reliable information on travel vaccines I have used a few government websites. These are by no means the only resources, just the ones I have used in the past:
If you do decide to go ahead with getting vaccinated for your travels, here are some tips and tricks to make it as “painless” as possible:
1. Do some prep work: visit a reputable website to find out what travel vaccines and medications are recommended for your destination.
2. Know where you stand: find out your own personal vaccination history. Make sure you know the vaccine name and the date you received it as some need to be updated. From the entire list of recommended vaccines for your destination, first check off the ones you already have! Yay! Fewer ouch moments required.
3. Book an appointment: For those vaccines that you need to get for your upcoming travels, book an appointment with your doctor or local travel clinic. I have used Passport Health in the past.
4. Check your benefits: Before you go to your vaccination appointment be sure to check your insurance coverage. It might help you decide what to get and what you might opt out of. *Helpful hint* – the doctors and nurses often have advice about which vaccines and medications are “need to have” for specific destinations and which are “nice to have”.
5. Take a deep breath and get vaccinated. The “ouch” factor sucks, but it is a small price to pay to be protected while you travel. I always keep a record of all my vaccines (paper and electronic copy) while I’m abroad.
6. Go travel! Now that you have done the heard part, go pack your bags and have the time of your life. Be safe and have fun.
SEE THE WORLD, MAKE IT BETTER.
~ Earthly Traveller