Travel Vaccination Requirements

Health & Safety, Leaving & Coming Home, Lost Girls RTW Adventure — By on June 22, 2006 at 12:37 pm

Yes, having a half dozen needles jabbed into your arm does somewhat suck, but we hear that yellow fever, typhoid and meningitis can be inconvenient and painful as well.

To avoid this travel unpleasantness, we knew we’d have to get several vaccinations and at least one prescription (Malaria) and that getting protected could get expensive–fast. Since most insurance companies don’t cover the cost of travel shots, and only a tiny fraction of prescription medications for travel, we researched ways to get the sticks and pills we needed for less cash.

After writing a piece for Travel + Leisure last year, I learned many government-run health departments offer travel shots and prescriptions “at cost,” which means they don’t add a surcharge to the vaccinations and the office visit is free. I decided to test my research at the Hillsborough County Health department in Tampa, where I ended up getting all six vaccinations I needed without an appointment. The shots were still expensive–around $400–but I could have paid nearly twice that if I’d gone to a travel clinic in New York City.

A few things I learned:

* Check with your insurance company to see what they do and don’t cover: Jen’s plan included a free tetnus shot, so she saved about $28. That’s the cost of three night’s lodging at a Peruvian hostal.

* Don’t get all of your shots in one sitting: Both Jen and I did, and felt like complete shit for days. Jen’s arm swelled up like she’d been stung by a wasp, but since she’d gotten three different shots in that arm, she wasn’t sure which one had caused the reaction (after a few days, we were both fine).

* Check your paperwork: Before you leave your doctor’s office or health department, make sure you get a shot record and that all of the information on it is correct. I left the HC Health Department with the wrong person’s name and address on my yellow card. Unfortunately for me, I realized this yesterday, when I arrived in Peru. Not sure yet how I’m going to deal, but hopefully I can get through customs in Brazil (they require proof of yellow fever).

* Take it with you: Keep your shots records on you when traveling abroad, but leave copies in a safe place at home. It’s as valuable as your passport for entry into many countries.

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    2 Comments

  • Guru Panguji says:

    Wow! So you girls are finally in Peru!! Wow!! That will be awesome :-)!

    Aaaarrrggghhh shots, I hate ’em shots!! They are ugly!! Ugly I tell ya :-D!!

    Have a blast!!

  • Nikki says:

    Whoa….just reading about the shots gives me goosebumps. Take it easy….