A great part of any trip, if its for one week or one year, is the ability to just lay there and relax whether its on the beach, in a hammock, or in bed. However, for some, the fun of laying in bed gets old because they’ve come down with one of the many nasty diseases that can hit travelers. Keeping that in mind, I decided to go get some vaccinations to reduce the chances that I’ll be lounging around somewhere in a nasty feverish sweat. However, shots can be expensive. I’m looking at about $600 in costs for the vaccinations and that’s even with help from health insurance. That brings me to a few good points.

Shop around to find the best value: Go to your doctor’s office, travel clinics, and public health clinics to find the best prices. You don’t have to get all your shots from the same place so mix and match to find the lowest costs. However, be careful of consultation, per visit, and administration fees for each shot. I’m speaking from experience as I got caught off guard paying $15 for each shot. Instead, I could’ve saved about $35 by going to the public health clinic. That’s several nights lodging in many countries.

Use those rare health insurance benefits: If you’re not going to have health insurance while you travel then it makes sense to check your current insurance benefits and have them incur some of the costs before you go. I get up to $300 a year for preventitive medicine. That’s not much, but it will help. Also, find out what your insurance will and will not cover. I wound up paying the full cost of my yellow fever vaccinations because it was not covered, but insurance covered Hep A/Hep B and consultation costs. This is the time to get out the microscope so
you can read the fine print of your policy.

Get all your vaccinations documented: Some countries require an international certificate of vaccination (often known as the yellow booklet) in order to be allowed entry. It’s almost as important as your passport. Besides, it will help to know your vaccination history if you get sick while travelling. Make sure that the information (personal, vaccinations) is correct to avoid worries at the border.

Don’t get all your shots at once: If you do you’ll probably end up feeling like shit for a day or more. Some vaccinations require a course of several shots to be taken within several months. So don’t leave it until the last minute either. The Twinrix (Hep A/Hep B) combo I am currently taking requires three shots. The second needs to be taken one month after the first and the last shot is taken five to six months after the first.

A good source of information is guidebooks and the CDC website. You can find out which shots are required and which are recommended for the areas that you want to visit. But don’t be afraid to wing it if you aren’t sure where you travels will take you. These vaccines can be administered while on the road. Just make sure the clinic you go to is clean and they use sterile needles.

Here’s a list of the vaccinations I am getting, plus their costs:

Shots:

Twinrix (Hep A/Hep B): 109.60 per shot * 3 = 328.80
Tetanus/Diptheria : 52.60
Polio: 49.60
Yellow Fever: 105.60
One time “Counseling” fee: $134.60 (Expensive, but I don’t have to pay for future visits)

Prescriptions:

Oral Typhoid Vaccine: $52
Malaria Pills (DOXYCYCLINE): $30 for 200 pills (These need to be taken daily before, during, and after visiting an affected area)
Travellers Diarrhea: (CIPRO): $21 for 18 pills (Good for everywhere but India and Thailand)
Travellers Diarrhea: (AZITHROMYCIN): $21 for 6 pills (Good for India and Thailand and also for sinus infections)

Total: $795.20 (but hopefully down to $495.20 with insurance benefits)

It’s a lot of money, but it’s worth it. I’ll probably get sick at some point during the year, but hopefully it will be a minor case of Montezuma’s Revenge or Delhi Belly (call it what you will). Maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to enjoy myself instead of spending quality time with Hepatits B.

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