Which Vaccinations Do You Need Before You Go?
This is a practical review of which vaccinations you may require before embarking on a long-term overseas trip.
My Vaccinations – Requirements By Country:
There are several websites that provide details of what vaccinations are required / recommended for different countries. I visited a couple of them for cross reference and constructed the following summary for me:
As you can see, it is possible to go totally over-board on vaccinations; you can spend over NZ$1,700 / US$1,275 / €1,025 / £850 if you take all of the optional items.
What The Doctor Said:
It would seem that the key to whether or not you need to take the “optional” vaccinations, is how long you are going to be exposed to the threat. Logical really.
As I am going to be away for so long (and exposed to the threat(s) for so long), I have been advised to take some of the optional items. In particular:
- I need Japanese Encephalitis (because I am spending so long in its prime infection area: South East Asia) which is picked up around rice paddy fields
- I need Rabies (because it is a world-wide problem and I’ll be semi-off the beaten track on occasions) just in case I annoy the wrong dog whilst I drive around on my rental scooter
Hepatitis B is caught from contact with infected blood or bodily fluids. I have no intention whatsoever of having any contact with “ladies of the night” so I am OK there. However, I opted for Hepatitis B because I may fall ill in an out-of-the way place where the cleanliness of (say) their syringes may be debatable.
Malaria tablets were interesting because the most common ones require you to take a tablet each day and continue to take those tablets for 7-28 days after you leave a threat zone. Given my target countries, I would have had a few months off of the tablets whilst in Europe… but, other than that, I would have had to take Malaria tablets every day for 2 1/2 years! The doctor and I concluded that this was not practical (just as well as I have a luggage weight limit of only 30kg!). There was another option that can be taken weekly but one of the side effects is (possible) hallucinations! We agreed that I would take 40 of these weekly tablets (not all at once, of course). These are not subsidised here in NZ so they were expensive at NZ$270!… but the Doctor wants me to take 2 of them before I go to make sure that I don’t “flip out” on them.
We decided against Cholera because it only lasts 3 months (which wouldn’t get me much past Cambodia)!
After seeing the Doctor, I met with the nurse to set out a Vaccination Schedule. End to end, the schedule will last nearly 2 months:
- We have to wait for a couple of the more exotic vaccines to be brought in (as they don’t carry them by default)
- So this week (week 1) we could only do Diphtheria & Tetanus and Typhoid
- In week 2 we start the first round of JAP E, HEP B, and Rabies
- In week 3 we do another round of HEP B and Rabies
- In week 5 we do the final rounds of JAP E, HEP B and Rabies
- In week 7 we do the Yellow Fever
- Just before I go, we try a couple of weeks of Malaria Tablets
By the time I get to Cambodia, i’ll be so pumped that i’ll be faster than a speeding bullet and i’ll be able to jump over mountains in one bound!
Or, will that just be the side effects of the Malaria Tablets playing with my head? 🙂