In this post I’ll share some immunization planning tips to keep in mind when traveling on this type of itinerary 😎
My best friend says I’m the most immunized person she knows 🙂 Because I’ve traveled extensively for work, many of my shots were up to date, saving my arms from an onslaught of needles. But even with my previous immunizations, I still needed/decided to get a bunch of new shots for this trip – 6 in total this time! You may also need to check your childhood vaccines with your travel doctor to see if these need to be updated.
And the most fun (not!) was twice having to drink the last vaccine for E-Coli and cholera. It’s disguised as a fizzy sweet raspberry drink, but that doesn’t take away from the knowledge that you’re drinking E-Coli & cholera …yummy!
Here’s some tips I learned during the planning of this trip 🙂
1. Research your travel clinics:
They all have different prices and general services. I used the Burlington Travel Clinic (burlingtontravelclinic.ca). My doc was great! He prepared comprehensive charts detailing my full trip including the high risk malaria zones (all of Laos, Cambodia & the majority of India) as well as the high-altitude zones for Nepal and Bhutan. It also helped that he has a light touch with the needles 🙂 There’s a lot of debate around immunization, but I’ve always chosen to take the shots. Here’s an example of the ones I have taken:
Typhoid, Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis, Hep A, Hep B, E-Coli/Cholera …
2. Watch your timing:
Some vaccines need to be given in a sequence over time. For example, the Dukeral oral vaccine needs to be taken twice, at the minimum 1 week apart (there’s a maximum time to check as well)! You are covered for three months 1 week after your second dose, so you can see this takes some planning! Make sure you visit your travel doctor as early as possible in your trip planning so as not to get caught without enough time for your vaccinations!
3. Check your destination for deals:
It may be that some vaccines in your destination countries may be less expensive than at home in Canada. For example, vaccines that can cost anywhere from $200 to $800 for the series at home can be found much cheaper in Thailand ($45) or India. It can be a big difference, but do your research, check ahead, be sure of your timings and carefully consider the other country’s health care quality when taking these decisions of where to get your shots.
4. Other meds:
It’s up to you and your travel doc to figure out what’s recommended and what you’ll end up taking. Here’s an example of my list for this trip:
First off are the malaria pills. Damn mosquitoes!!!! I believe its better safe than sorry when it comes to taking these, so please follow your travel doctor’s expert opinion when planning these meds. And remember, it’s not just malaria that we get from these nasty critters! There’s also dengue fever & there’s no vaccine for this one, so be sure to bring effective bug spray and practice good prevention for ‘mossie’ bites”! Especially if you are a bug magnet like I am! If you’re still in doubt, check out this post by Hippie in High Heels about the joys of contracting Dengue Fever: http://hippie-inheels.com/dengue-fever-symptoms/
Then there’s altitude mountain sickness or AMS for short. It doesn’t matter what level of fitness you have or what age you are, you can get hit with this. Check out Lady Gaga’s bout with AMS in Denver: http://www.celebritydiagnosis.com/2014/08/lady-gaga-suffers-altitude-sickness-denver-show/ For this trip itinerary, the high altitude is mostly in Bhutan (Paro & Thimpu): http://www.bhutantravelbureau.com/about-bhutan/township-altitudes/. There are a lot of good sites that discuss AMS, how to recognize the signs and what to do if you get sick. Here’s a great site for more information: http://www.altitude.org/altitude_sickness.php
Last, but not least, is the dreaded ‘travelers runs’. Especially with New Delhi, India & the infamous ‘Delhi Belly’. I’ve been to India many times with work and have luckily not had an issue with this, but I know people who have, and it’s not pretty 😦 I always stick to the ‘boil it, peel it, cook it or forget it” safe eating principle, regardless of where I am traveling. I’ve packed Pepto, Imodium, I took the Dukeral oral vaccines & my doc prescribed a kick-ass antibiotic “just in case” it’s needed. The last thing I want is to be unable to leave the safety of a close toilet during my travels! I’m also bringing oral re-hydration salts full of electrolytes … just in case! Fingers crossed they won’t be needed!
Be well, be safe & partner with docs who specialize in this type of travel … after all; you want to enjoy every precious moment of your time away.
– “If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” – Dalai Lama