Question Number Two
I nearly forgot to mention what “question number 2” is until I was making a mental note of when to take my Typhoid vaccine again… “What kind of shots do you need?” I don’t believe anyone asks this question when you take a trip to Cancun or France however every single person has asked me this question.
So, here is the low down. Let me say, I am not a physician and this is not medical advice.
Initially, I didn’t really think I was going to need anything, just updates on any vac’s that I haven’t had in a while or needed a booster of. Turns out that I did need to see a doctor.
My family physician referred me to an Infectious Disease doctor. Our local health system has a travel clinic so this practice was also suggested by the college study abroad office.
In case you haven’t been in this situation before, you should know that most medical insurances do not cover immunizations required for travel. I am not completely sure why that is, considering the consequences of coming home with a potentially deadly ailment that would surely cost more to treat than the cost of the shot. But anyway… This meant I was going to be on the hook for the costs.
The visit consisted of a consultation going over my whole itinerary, including the regions I would be visiting. Since I am going to 3 distinct areas, it was important for the doctor to know this info since outbreaks of certain diseases can be isolated to specific areas. She discussed what signs of illness to watch for, even what can happen months after return. Let’s not forget traveler’s diarrhea… when its a belly ache and when to seek medical help.
The temptation to skip this kind of visit should be avoided! Some immunizations can interact with your current meds, may have sensitivity if you will be in heat/sun, etc. The information and warnings that you will get (even though many are repetitious) are truly valuable and worth my $75.
Ok, so here’s the lowdown. My primary care office gave me Hep A vaccine (which I think was covered, we’ll see). I just had tetanus and Hep B as part of work requirements within the last year, so I didn’t need them administered, but would have. I also needed a vaccine for Typhoid. I opted for the oral typhoid vaccine (Vivotef, which is active Typhoid and is 4 pills which need to be refrigerated). Here is the CDC link for info on the Typhoid vaccines.
Interestingly enough, I was somehow able to get the LAST available oral dose in my local area. The manufacturer does not have a planned order date so my usual pharmacy couldn’t even order more. The shot would have been much more expensive. Thankfully, the oral cost me only $60. I also was prescribed a weekly anti-malaria drug which will need to be taken a week before travel, during travel, then four weeks after my return. This was covered by my plan and only had a small copay.
And there you have it.
Talk to your doctor, go to the Center of Disease Control website (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/) and don’t wait until the last minute because some types of vaccines may be limited in your area AND you may need to have them well in advance of your trip.