Staying Healthy

[ 0 ] April 24, 2011 |

Sparkly Travel Clinic vs. Health Department

If you know us, you know we like a deal. Especially when the outcomes of various options are essentially the same value with perhaps less sparkle. In this case- we did not follow that logic (100% Alison’s fault). I know it sounds ridiculous considering what we are about to do, but the hurdle of getting shots by choice was a big one for me (prior history of passing out). First, I did my own research and knew what vaccinations we needed to get. I had my own various brands of malaria medicine picked out to consider accepting, as well as a list of antibiotics I wanted prescriptions for. I got the pricing for each vaccine from our local health department and even printed out directions and office hours with intentions of going and waiting along with half of Dallas for hours until my number was called… That never happened.

Through casual conversation with our primary care doctor, he recommended we check out an infectious disease and travel medicine clinic. It was meant to be! Once our timeline firmed up, I knew I had to bite the bullet on shots. Once I made the appointment there was no backing out or putting it off (+ to an appointment vs. waiting room.) Yes, there was an office visit fee, and it was worth it. The travel clinic specializes in this- so they really did know more than I had gathered online. They double-checked everything to make sure we got exactly what we needed and spent ample time talking about other travel items (what foods to eat, water sanitation options, DEET %’s, finding doctors internationally, etc.) Best of all, I had a super nurse who was knowledgeable, patient, and compassionate.

So, when I’m getting shots by choice- I’ll take my sparkly travel clinic any day.


The only one that is absolutely required to travel to some places is Yellow Fever. However, we opted to get everything available and recommended to us (as I think most semi-responsible US citizens would.) That ended up being 5 shots each and oral Typhoid pills. Because we both have wonderful parents that made sure we had all of our childhood vaccinations, we were right on track and were able to get everything in just one visit. 3 in one arm, 2 in the other.

Vaccine Cost No. Notes
Typhoid (oral) $53 4 pills Good 5 years
Yellow Fever $113 1 shot Good 10 years
Polio Booster $34 1 shot Locks in for life
Meningitis (Meningococcal) $146 1 shot Good 10 years
Hep A $87 2 shots Locks in for life
Hep B $52 3 shots Locks in for life
Tetanus/Diptheria/Pertussis (Tdap) $72 1 shot Good 10 years

Because we got these vaccines for international travel, our insurance won’t cover them. These are the cash prices we paid. (The health department was only a few dollars less.)

We opted not to get Rabies or Japanese Encephalitis shots since the doctors we consulted assured us the risks associated with the two diseases were not worth the trauma, effort, or expense of acquiring them.

Health wise we’re ready to go anywhere at the drop of a hat! It’s really an empowering feeling…

We both received our stamped and signed “Yellow Card” which is an “International Certificate of Vaccination” approved by the World Health Organization. We’ll keep this with our passports and show it at necessary boarder crossings and with certain visa applications.

Malaria Pills

When is comes to malaria coverage we are taking our best guess. The toughest part is figuring out what we will need for roughly how long we will be in malaria zones and which drugs are appropriate for those zones. Some medicines are no longer effective in certain regions. Best-case scenario we will be able to take Lariam a once weekly dose that works in all malaria zones. If that doesn’t set with us well (Lariam is known to cause psychotic disturbances, anxiety, sleeplessness, and depression in a small number of users) we’ve decided to go with daily Malarone. The cost per pill is about the same- so obviously a weekly dose will be more cost effective- but I think we’ll place sanity above cost in this case. Before leaving the country we’re taking a 3-week trial run of Lariam to see if we have any side effects. We also double-checked with our doctor to make sure there wouldn’t be any issues with taking malaria pills for such a long time (liver damage etc.) since we will be in Malaria zones for potentially 7 months or so. Fortunately the dosage is intended for prevention so there is no maximum limit on taking it.

Other Medications

We reached out to all of our various specialists to explain the situation and ask for a year’s supply of various other medications we take. Some were receptive and helpful – others were bitter they weren’t getting to travel and opted not to help us. At the end of the day we ended up finding ways to get what we needed thanks to some fabulous doctors- a years supply of Pat’s allergy medication and my birth control so we won’t have to buy any on the road (a practice the CDC strongly discourages).

The travel clinic wrote us prescriptions for supplies of different types of antibiotics so we will be armed against anything we may encounter. Levaquin is a broad based antibiotic. You take it different lengths for different ailments (ex. traveler’s belly 3 days, sinus infection 10 days). We’re also carrying Zithromax and Promethegan.

Over the Counter

I made a trip to the pharmacy aisle and picked up what felt like one of everything. AdvilAdvil PM, Pepto Bismol,Benadryl allergy pills, DayQuilImodium A-D, Neosporin, Band-Aids and a new thermometer. I bought the smallest bottle of each so they will be well labeled and will stay dry with the least packaging and weight. All liquid medicine is out since we don’t want to have to count that as part of our quart size bag at the airport. It’s a bit annoying to have to carry all of this around and take up precious space in our packs but- like an umbrella- if we carry it maybe we won’t need it.


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Category: Alison's Blog, Blog, Planning

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