So you’ve started planning for your trip and now it’s time to make sure you are covered for the unexpected illnesses. It’s much better to plan for these things before you leave than once you are abroad.
We really recommend giving yourself at least six months to start getting all of your vaccines figured out. That may seem like way too much time but each vaccine has a specific schedule that you have to adhere to so it’s better to give yourselves more time to plan than less.
For anyone that hasn’t gotten travel shots before they can get really expensive! We were lucky because we had medical coverage through both of our jobs so it made the shots relatively cheap for us but make sure to budget ahead for this. Next it’s time to sit down with a travel specialist and go through your destinations and what they recommend for your travels. Every country is different so it’s best to talk to a healthcare specialist. Often these travel clinics will charge you for a consultation fee and for an injection fee. Be sure to shop around because a lot of that is negotiable! Once you’ve got your schedule and list of what shots you are getting and when it’s time to start. Make sure to eat and drink something before your shots because they can make you a bit woozy at the time of the injection. We experienced sore muscles the next couple of days at the injection site which is also pretty common!
After researching and talking with our travel specialist this is what we came up for shots.
Recommended shots for every vacation:
1. Hepatitis A & Hepatitis B
They now have a dual vaccine called TwinRix that you can get which is given to you in 3 doses. The schedule starts on Day 1, and then the second shot 1 month after the first shot, and then the third shot 6 months after the first shot. There is also a fast track schedule you can get which is Day 1, 3 Weeks after Day 1 and 1 year after the first shot.
*Now we messed up Piets shots and realized that we would be gone when he was due for his 3d shot. Luckily, what we learned is that the third shot is just to make sure we boosted his immunity against Hep A&B and that the shot could be taken anytime after he was due for his 3rd shot. So it could be 8 months later or 2 years later. Phewf!*
This is a common shot and it’s relatively cheap to prevent against a bacterial infection that is often caused by a puncture in your skin from nails, splinters, insect bites etc. It’s great because this shot is good for 10 years.
3. Cholera (Dukoral)
Cholera is another type of bacterial infection that causes terrible stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhea. Dukoral is an oral vaccine that protects you from Cholera for 2 years. It will also help protect you for 3 months against certain strings of bacteria that cause traveller’s diarrhea.
Typhoid is a serious disease caused by the bacteria Salmonella. There are two options for protection against this bacteria. First one is a live vaccine that is taken orally and the second is a dead vaccine that is given as a shot. Both are equally effective but the oral vaccine lasts for 5 years versus 2 years for the shot.
Other shots we got for our Adventures:
1. Yellow Fever
Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito. There are certain areas that require you to show you’ve had your yellow fever vaccine before even entering the country. (Required for Ecuador for us)
Rabies is a serious disease that is often fatal for humans if not treated right away. Rabies are caused when humans are bitten by an infected animal- often dogs or bats. The Rabies vaccine is given in a 3 shot series. Shot 1- Day 1, Shot 2- 7 days after the first shot, 3rd shot is 21 days after the 2 shot.
3. Japanese Encephalitis
A viral brain infection caused by the bite of a mosquito. The vaccine is really only recommended for travel to certain parts of rural SE Asia. These shots are administered in a two shot dose, Day 1 and Day 28.
4. Meningococcal Disease
A bacterial infection that infects the spinal cord and brain. It can be spread from one person to another through saliva as well as contact through objects (like door handles). Menveo shot is given in one dose.
Other Recommended Medications
1. Malaria Pills
There are a couple of different choices for malaria pills so it’s best to talk to your travel doctor about the options. We chose to go with Malarone, as we only take 1 tablet by mouth starting 1-2 days before a Malaria zone and 7 days after we leave. We’ve taken a few months supply as we will be in and out of malaria zones throughout South America.
2. General Antibiotics
Azithromycin- used to treat numerous bacteria infections like ear infections, strep throat, travelers diarrhea
Costs of the Vaccines: