Preparing to Go – Travel Inoculations

So nobody likes injections. Or rather I know that I really really don’t since I fainted straight after the first lot of travel inoculations. Though to be fair, I am prone to fainting and have fainted for stupid reasons such as swallowing food that was too hot and standing up too quickly, so I think my body’s just a bit useless in the blood pressure department.

Regardless of this, inoculations are a wonderful invention and I felt very privileged being able to protect myself from some very nasty diseases. Contact your doctor or clinic nurse at least six weeks before you plan to travel as some of the vaccines are required to be taken in courses spanning a month.

This is some advice I got from my very lovely nurse at my GP clinic:

Travel Vaccines FREE on the NHS:

– Diphtheria/Tetanus/Polio x1 injection

(not really a travel injection – many get this done as a teenager, specifically after HPV if you are a girl and had that done at school. I couldn’t recall being offered it, and it wasn’t on my medical records, so the nurse decided to jab me again just in case!)

Hepatitis A + B Combined (or Twinrix)

x3 injections

Now this is a combined vaccine taken over a month. The first two injections need to be taken within a week of on another. The last injection needs a space of two weeks from the one previous. The nurse also advised that having another injection in a years time will give lifelong protection. Getting this done in a private travel clinic costs £70 per injection

Typhoid x1 injection

A straight forward travel vaccine to protect you from this nasty bacterial infection.

Travel Vaccines PAID for:

Rabies x3 injections done over a month

£50 per injection at my clinic meaning £150 overall.

Now I’m sure you’ve all heard of Rabies – a nasty viral infection which induces a fear of water. My nurse explained to me that this vaccination wouldn’t stop a person from contracting rabies, but it would make it a lot easier to treat. However, as Rabies is contracted from animal bites from:

  • dogs
  • bats
  • raccoons
  • foxes
  • jackals
  • cats
  • mongooses

And I have absolutely no plans to come into contact with any of these, not to mention I am extremely broke apart from my travel funds, I have opted not to have this injection. I’m choosing to lean on my travel insurance quite heavily, as you can tell…

 – Yellow Fever x1 injection
£65 for the injection at my clinic
In travelling to Central and South America, this is a must. I’ve been told that when moving from country to country, many border controls will ask to see certification showing evidence of your vaccine.
It is also possible to be vaccinated for Cholera and Japanese Encephalitis though the latter is quite rare in travellers.
Protection against Malaria:
Although there is very low risk of Malaria in my first port of call of Costa Rica, I have been advised to take tablets with me for my travels to South America. The disease is particularly prevalent in low areas near water and the nurse also suggested other precautions such as using a net and insect repellent. As I am quite prone to getting mosquito bites (I think I once read somewhere that blonde people are far more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes…) the thoughts of catching this illness cause me quite a lot of anxiety.
Fortunately, there are anti-malarial tablets you can take, namely doxycline (which I understand you can get on prescription in the UK), Mefloquine and Atovaquone.
These require you to be stringent with your course and you do sometimes have to continue taking the drug up to four weeks after leaving a malarial zone.
One very good website for finding out whether you are travelling to the malarial zone is below:
Going to the ‘Destinations’ section, there’s all sorts of relevant information about the injections you need and the ‘Malaria Map’ tab shows the relative risk of Malaria in different countries.
Anyway, if your arm doesn’t hurt too much after all that prodding, I would give you a high five. You’re all protected against some very nasty diseases and ready to enjoy some backpacking!