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Shots You Need and Some You Don't When Traveling Overseas

closeup of injection vaccine

If you are traveling overseas, there are some shots you may need and some you don’t. With mosquitos carrying everything from Yellow Fever to Malaria, the smart thing is to be prepared. You can overdo it though, so here are a few tips that will hopefully help you out.

Do the Research
You can contact the travel section of the CDC at the Center for Disease Control website for information on what may be required or at least recommended for where you’re going. Some countries require certificates confirming you have had the required shots. Still others may not require the shots but recommend them. This is where you have to decide just how cautious you need to be.

Ask Your Doctor
Your family doctor knows your history better than anyone, so he or she should be knowledgeable about what shots you can take. Certain shots can react with prescription meds so you need to make sure if you able to take the recommended shots.

Use County Health
Your county health department can inform you on what you need, as well as provide the shots for you. These may be cheaper than at commercial establishments but their supplies are sometimes limited, so give yourself plenty of time to get it done.

Timing is Everything
There is a shortage of Yellow Fever shots currently in the United States. I had to scramble to get shots for my wife and I recently, so don’t delay if you need them. Yellow Fever shots need to be received at least ten days before your trip and if you don’t get them in time, you may have to cancel your plans. Yellow Fever shots contain a live virus and usually come in packs of five doses. Once a vial is opened, it has to be administered within an hour, so reservations are required and they are in demand.

Safety Doesn’t Come Cheap
My wife and I recently paid $170 apiece for shots to prevent Yellow Fever. The Diphtheria/Tetanus/Pertussis shot that was recommended to us was another $80 per person. Add in the $55 consultation fee we each paid, and we forked out more than $600 for the two of us to get two shots. The consultation fee was a requirement of the commercial establishment we were forced to use due to the limited supply of Yellow Fever shots and may not have been required at the county health department. If I would have been on it earlier, we could have saved a bit by going to the county health department, but not much; all these shots are expensive.

How Much is Enough?
You need to consider what immunizations you have had as a child too. Mumps, Measles, Chicken Pox, Tuberculosis: which of these have you had and which are still a danger to you? You don’t need to be afraid in most cases and certainly don’t need to be protected from everything, everywhere. The nurse we talked to at our meeting was flabbergasted that we didn’t want flu shots—some of us actually survive just fine without them. Just because you haven’t had all the childhood maladies or vaccinations does not necessarily mean you need to worry now.

Time to Decide
We were advised to obtain many, many more shots than we settled on. As mentioned, I had to patronize a commercial company and am under the impression they tried to up-sell me. At the consultation we were required to attend (and pay $55 apiece for the privilege), they advised us to also get shots for Typhoid, Malaria, Hepatitis A and B, and other maladies as well. Luckily, I am visiting a good friend who is also a doctor in the foreign land we are headed to, so I could turn to her for advice. You should do your own research and consult your family doctor to determine what is best for you and your family. We ended up with two shots and a whole bunch of bug spray. Here’s hoping you’ll be hearing from me soon.

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