Travel Vaccines – The More You Know

When I was looking for information on vaccines I found that there was very little on the internet. You know you have to get them, but you really don’t know much more than that. Seeing as we just went through this giant debacle, I thought I would share the plethora of information that I received while talking to the travel nurse. There is alot of rifle through in regards to travel vaccines.

A few things to take into consideration:

#1 Vaccinations are not cheap if you do them in the United States

We decided to go ahead and put our money into getting them here so that we can put our planning energy elsewhere. The insurance company basically told us that they were not legally viable for the vaccinations and so we were on our own.

If you have time on your hands, I would suggest looking into your County Health Clinics. For instance, I know that the Travis County Health Clinic can help with your Hep A/B and tetanus shots at a fraction of the cost, and the staff has undergone excellent medical billing coding classes. Also, if you can split up your travel nurse consultation with shots that aren’t covered under your insurance by setting up a separate appointment under your primary care provider, you can save time (and money) by not having to send in the paperwork to your insurance company to claim your covered vaccinations.

And most surprising, my travel nurse highly suggested getting shots done in Thailand if you are looking for a more budget friendly choice. Once I get the suggested clinic locations she has for me, I’ll let you guys know.

#2 Vaccinations have to be done MONTHS in advance.

Well, if you get certain ones that is.

While Hep A/B are not required to travel abroad, most healthcare providers strongly suggest them. They are on the schedule of 0/1/6 months so keep in mind that you need 6 months prior to your trip for them to kick in.

Box for Oral Typhoid pills

#3 There are multiple ways to get your Typhoid Vaccine.

The typhoid shot lasts 2 years.

From what I understand, the typhoid shot can be quite nasty in regards to side effects and recovery. Almost all the travelers I talked to on Twitter and in my own community talked about how sore their arm was or that they were bruised.

The typhoid oral vaccines last 5 and are only ~$11 more.

These require you to take the pills on a very specific regiment but last much longer. So far Shaun and I have had no issues with side effects except for very mild stomach issues.

#4 Yellow fever vaccine burns like a SOB.

A week has passed since the vaccine and a giant welt has appeared at the injection site. While this is normal (and I’ve heard multiple people complain about this issue), I am a big baby and it hurts even when people give me hugs.I can imagine that I’m in for some very interesting side effects.

Shaun with his super genes and super immune system has nothing at all – no trace of anything.

An awesome reminder from Laura from A Wandering Sole, “Also, I would remind everyone not to forget their Yellow Fever certificate when they travel. I never get checked and thought it was pointless… until I went to Zambia. They wouldn’t even let me pay for the visa until they saw my Yellow Fever certificate!”

Our next appointment is in a month in which we will get our second round of Hep A/B shots and a long discussion about malaria pills and general precautions. I have to admit, I was impressed by the travel nurse on hand. Not only was she personable but spent the better part of an hour chatting with us about the vaccines in detail along with handing us a plethora of travel materials to look over.

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Jay of Our Take On Freedom has let us know that there are free vaccine clinics in New York City. I will continue to update this list as I get more information.

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**Don’t forget to get your yellow travel vaccination card signed at the time of your appointments.**

**All photos via me, Erica Kuschel.**

Almost forgot the picture of Shaun being poked!

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Disclosure: The link in this post was sponsored.

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52 Responses to “Travel Vaccines – The More You Know”

  1. Camels & Chocolate
    December 21, 2010 at 1:16 pm #

    I had the yellow fever shot this spring (along with seven other vacs for Africa), and that was one of the more painful experiences of my life! Brutal!

    • Erica
      December 21, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

      @C&C: Brutal is definitely a good word for it! I just make a sad face every time I accidentally bump it.

  2. Jay Horowitz - OurTakeOnFreedom
    December 21, 2010 at 1:17 pm #

    Hey guys!

    I got a lot of my vaccines at a free clinic in New York City. Insurance would have covered the vaccines, but that would have meant a $20 copay for each of the three times I would need to go to my doctor to get jabbed. The vaccine clinic was convenient, quick, and I’m pretty sure just as effective. I’d bet that other large cities have free vaccination programs as well.

    • Erica
      December 21, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

      @Jay: HEY JAY! <3 I'm sure many of the readers from New York will love this information! Unfortunately in Texas, they are not so nice about free vaccine clinics and you do have to pay a bit at the County Clinics. If you know of any more cities, let me know! :D

  3. Ryan
    December 21, 2010 at 1:36 pm #

    Oy! Sorry to see that “no bueno” red mark… I just had the yellow fever shot TODAY. So far so good, but they did say side effects are worst typically between day 5 and day 10. Yellow fever shot is good legally for 10 years, though the nurse said it really is sufficient for longer. So the worst is over! :)

    • Erica
      December 21, 2010 at 3:38 pm #

      @Ryan: I didn’t feel anything for the first 5 days but I wish you the best. Hopefully you will be like Shaun!

  4. Ayngelina
    December 21, 2010 at 5:05 pm #

    Do not panic about getting vaccinations especially if you’re planning to head to tourist areas. I got my first Hep A/B shot in Canada and the second in the Philippines. If I had known better before going to Asia I would have gotten the rest as well.

    • Erica
      December 21, 2010 at 6:59 pm #

      @Ayngelina: The third set of our Hep will have to be on the road but I’m not too terribly worried about it to be honest. We’re hoping to do some volunteer work so I’m not sure where that will take us. :)

  5. Bethany
    December 21, 2010 at 10:54 pm #

    ouch…i have to get some of the more major ones like yellow fever, etc. But i was def. planning on doing that in Thailand due to the costs. Can you def. let me know the list your nurse gives you? That would be awesome! Also if you spot randy online yell at him! He still hasn’t gotten his hep a or b. – I don’t know – it’s been what – 2 years??? What is wrong with him?? hahha

    • Erica
      December 22, 2010 at 12:55 am #

      @Beth: Once she emails me the suggested places I will definitely let you know! Just be aware that Yellow Fever suuuuuuuuucks.

  6. Heather
    December 22, 2010 at 3:56 pm #

    Eeep! I haven’t had to have any based on my destinations but I know I will with future travels…I needed this reminder to GET ON THE BALL and get them since it does take months for the series ones. Only have travel medical insurance now so I need to look into this more…

    • Erica
      December 22, 2010 at 11:19 pm #

      @Heather: I wish you good luck and let me know if I can help with any information. :)

  7. Lorna - the roamantics
    December 22, 2010 at 4:35 pm #

    sorry about your owie! great post! planned to write a post about our experience! we got all our stuff done at the thai red cross in bangkok and it was ridiculously cheap and extremely clean. glad you guys are covered and fingers crossed for no more side effects :)

    • Erica
      December 22, 2010 at 11:22 pm #

      @Lorna: It keeps getting BIGGER. Now I can see the bruise forming and it looks so ugly. I’m just glad I didn’t get it on my tattoo or I would be freaking out! We’re going to have to get our 3rd shot abroad and we may be in Thailand at that point. :)

  8. Globetrottergirls
    December 22, 2010 at 4:49 pm #

    We’re so lucky that we got our shots in the UK – we paid only 50.00 Pounds, the rest was covered by health care (long live health care!!!), and thanks to our friendly nurse we only paid 7.00 Pounds each for 90 malaria pills (we didn’t really count as ‘low income employees’, but she still managed to get us a such prescription… ;-) …)

    • Erica
      December 22, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

      @GTG: Kinda jealous about your health care not going to lie! That is pretty awesome!

  9. Sarah Wu
    December 22, 2010 at 10:01 pm #

    ouch, I never like shots. You guys are brave heehee. But you’re right getting hat part done so you can focus on other stuff.

    • Erica
      December 22, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

      @Sarah: You probably wouldn’t call me brave as I was a giant baby about the whole thing.

  10. Andrea
    December 22, 2010 at 10:18 pm #

    They’re not cheap in Australia either! We did these a couple of months ago. Had sore arms for a week!

    • Erica
      December 22, 2010 at 11:28 pm #

      @Andrea: The arm was sore from the Hep for the first few days and then went into the bruising of yellow fever. So terrible!

  11. Melvin
    December 23, 2010 at 6:05 am #

    Luckily we have a great health care system in Germany. Most vaccines are for free in Germany! My insurance even pays me the real expensive Malarone Malaria tablets! :)

    • Erica
      December 23, 2010 at 7:13 pm #

      @Melvin: I wish I was in the same boat!

  12. Gillian
    December 23, 2010 at 8:46 am #

    They may not be cheap…and they may hurt…but they will save your life! We are lucky to have access to vaccines and other preventative medications…I’m glad that you are taking advantage! Cheers!

    • Erica
      December 23, 2010 at 7:14 pm #

      @Gillian: I’m glad that we have them, I just wish it wasn’t such a pain on the pocketbook! Yay science!

  13. Matt
    December 23, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    I went round and round with our insurance company regarding paying for travel vaccinations. They wouldn’t cover them at all. I asked them if I came back from my travels with a disease that the vaccinations would have prevented would they cover my treatment. “Of course your treatment would be covered” they said. So they would rather spend more on treatment then a small amount on prevention. That is the difference between preventative health care and reactive health care. Maybe we will just get what we need in Indonesia.

    • Erica
      December 23, 2010 at 7:16 pm #

      @Matt: It makes my brain hurt to think about insurance companies. I have too many stories to tell about how a loved one or I have been screwed royally by them.

  14. joshywashington
    December 23, 2010 at 3:50 pm #

    Great post… i felt like when my wife and I traveled to Southeast Asia a few years ago that we over vaccinated… we ended up spending like 700 dollars then found out, like you suggest, that we could have saved a bundle getting needled overseas.
    Do you think it is best to er on the side of caution?

    • Erica
      December 23, 2010 at 7:20 pm #

      @Joshy: We had the total come out to somewhere around $650 AND we got a 25% discount for paying up front. Kills me. It really does. We’ll make up for it by heading to places that require the vaccinations. ;)

  15. Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World
    December 23, 2010 at 6:28 pm #

    Ouch! This is something we haven’t done much research for our own trip next year. Mostly because I’m a big, whiny, baby when it comes to needles. The yellow fever one sounds horrible! Is that required?

    • Erica
      December 23, 2010 at 7:21 pm #

      @Jill: I am a huge baby with needles. HUGE. The Yellow Fever one is required for certain countries. Many of the vaccinations are suggested by docs though.

  16. Laura
    December 27, 2010 at 6:38 pm #

    I jumped for joy when I went to the doctor for my RTW trip because I only needed malaria meds! I got all of those terrible shots when I went to Africa 2 years ago and Haiti a few years before that. Such a pain and so expensive! If you can get shots abroad, it would definitely be cheaper. Also, I would remind everyone not to forget their Yellow Fever certificate when they travel. I never get checked and thought it was pointless… until I went to Zambia. They wouldn’t even let me pay for the visa until they saw my Yellow Fever certificate

    • Erica
      December 27, 2010 at 6:43 pm #

      @Laura: Good point! will add that now! I’m getting my yellow travel card the next time we head in – in two weeks. I can’t wait to be able to waltz around the world for the next few years like you knowing that everything is taken care of!

  17. dtravelsround
    December 27, 2010 at 7:22 pm #

    Good info! I didn’t think I needed any vaccines until I was offered a trip to Rwanda. By then, I was in Spain. Fortunately, the health care system in Spain was excellent and inexpensive. I got my yellow fever for $20, then went to a pharmacy and got my Hep A vaccine and my malaria pills there … all for under $200 USD. In America, the doc visit alone would have cost $75. Great tips!

    • Erica
      December 27, 2010 at 9:55 pm #

      @D: That is awesome! I should have thought about it when we were in Madrid honestly. Somehow future travels seemed much farther off when we were there. I wasn’t asking “what next?” yet. Thank you for your kind words!

  18. Abby Tegnelia
    December 28, 2010 at 9:01 am #

    Oh, wow. I have most of those, but it never would’ve occurred to me to bring any certificates! I thought it was only so I didn’t get sick — never thought of protecting others haha. Great post!

    • Erica
      December 28, 2010 at 4:01 pm #

      @Abby:I think it has to do with how we are used to things being handled – reactively vs. proactively. Like, how in most Asian countries, YOU wear the mask to ensure you don’t make anyone sick versus what we do here.

  19. ShaSha
    December 28, 2010 at 10:23 am #

    thanks for sharing dude, very important info :)

  20. barbara kingstone
    December 28, 2010 at 7:16 pm #

    go to the above on line magazine under MISC. yes malaria pills can cause awful side affects but there is another besides Larium and Marlaron (sic). You must take them if going into malaria filled areas. also do get the yellow fever shot which lasts 10 years and a polio booster. get certificates for the former or you may not be allowed into the country.

    • Erica
      December 29, 2010 at 3:11 pm #

      @Barbara: Thank you for the information! :D

  21. Dave and Deb
    December 29, 2010 at 12:09 am #

    Great information guys. We never got the typhoid shot. The typhoid shot only provides 50% protection and doesn’t prevent the disease…it does minimize it though so it never hurts to get. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/cig-gci/p04-typh-eng.php
    We always think back to a couple of travellers that we met years ago that got typhoid fever even after they had their shots. So we’ve never bothered with them. We have the Yellow Fever vaccine for Africa and South America because you need it to enter certain countries. And yes, it is very important to carry that certificate with you, but normally your doctor should tell you that anyway. I’ve heard of a few people getting their shots in Thailand and I am pretty sure some in Vietnam. That’s what we’ll be doing when our next round of shots come up. I remember our first travel around the world, we dropped a lot of cash on vaccines.

    • Erica
      December 29, 2010 at 3:38 pm #

      @Dave and Deb: I totally did not know that about typhoid. Knowing my immune system, there is no harm in a little help. :) The next time we have to get our shot updates (not for some time), I’m sure I’ll be part of the medical tourism bandwagon. Such a shame that they are so expensive!

  22. Jaime
    December 31, 2010 at 11:44 pm #

    Ive learned a lot by reading everyones comments. Im glad you pushed me to get my shots sooner, especially now that I am leaving in March!!!

    EEEeeee~

    • Erica
      January 1, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

      @Jaime: I’m so glad I helped you out Jaime! Totally excited to see you leave for your trip soon.

  23. Michael Hodson
    January 1, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    expensive!! I did a post way, way back when about my vaccines. Still amazed at how much they are.

    • Erica
      January 1, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

      @Michael: So expensive it is stupid. It probably scares people away from traveling in the first place. A damn shame I tell ya.

  24. Federico
    January 3, 2011 at 3:13 am #

    Vaccines are provided at no cost in Spain- hard to beat that!

  25. Dina
    January 4, 2011 at 12:22 am #

    We haven’t gotten the yellow fever vaccine yet, not looking forward to get a big swell like yours. Interesting note on the yellow fever certificate!

    • Erica
      January 4, 2011 at 1:31 am #

      @Dina: Took me a few weeks to get over that one but now I feel like I can take on the world. :X

  26. Emily
    January 6, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    Very good stuff to know–I haven’t had to get travel vaccines yet. How interesting that the nurse actually recommended getting vaccines in Thailand! Though it sounds like many of them need to be done far enough in advance that it’s not practical. I also didn’t realize that not all the shots were covered by insurance…very frustrating. But I would also prefer to get them done stateside before leaving. I’m sorry about your sore/swollen arm :(

    • Erica
      January 7, 2011 at 1:34 am #

      @Emily: The travel nurse was a realist in regards to how much money it costs to get the vaccinations in the US. Thailand has an amazing medical system there and has even gotten awards from American medical associations.

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