Yesterday marked 8 months until the beginning of our round-the-world trip! So close yet so far. Right now we’re just doing a lot of research and planning, and the hope is that by January we’ll have most of the information we need so from then until July, all we’ll need to do is execute the steps- easy peasy! Right, we’ll see about that.
There hasn’t been a thing yet that has gone completely according to plan, but it’s good training for life on the road, yes?
I hadn’t planned to start worrying about travel vaccinations for a few more months, but I had an appointment with my primary care doctor about an unrelated matter and given our recent decision to spend New Year’s abroad, I figured I might as well inquire while I was there.
Photo by Steven Depolo
She pulled out a travel map and asked for the list of countries we’d be going to. As we discussed the possible vaccinations based on our route, the conversation started to get confusing as I tried to explain that while we had a general idea of what we wanted to do, things might change during our travels:
You won’t need that unless you’re planning to go live in the jungle. Well, we might decide to live in the jungle!
You won’t need that unless you’re planning to roll around with animals. We might roll around with animals!
Sounds like you’ll have an interesting trip.
After talking through our plans further, and taking into account all of the hokey things we were prone to do during our travels, we determined that I would need.. almost all of them?! Hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus and diphtheria, polio, typhoid, yellow fever, and rabies- whew!
Unfortunately, she couldn’t administer the yellow fever or rabies vaccines in house so she sent a referral over to an infectious diseases doctor and suggested I get everything done there. She warned that some of the vaccines might not be covered by insurance but I was unflappable- J had recently found a volunteer opportunity for us in Argentina, helping rehabilitate monkeys, and we were all but obsessed with the idea of going. The monkeys need us, and besides, we had already budgeted for vaccination costs.
A week later, I had an appointment, and within 5 minutes of arrival I had been stabbed repeatedly (okay, maybe a little dramatic), handed a fistful of prescriptions for antidiarrheal, malaria, and typhoid pills.. and presented with a bill for $180. Not bad, but also not including the rabies vaccine which the doctor advised that I get closer to my date of departure since it would only last two years and would cost..
SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS! Per person!
Okay, noted, I said as I nodded my head matter of factly trying to hide my shock and horror.
The grand total for my vaccinations? Between the co-pays for several doctors visits and the vaccines not covered by insurance (in my case yellow fever, rabies, and maybe tetanus), my grand total will be over $1000. Over $2000 for the two of us. Contrast that to the $150/person we budgeted for vaccinations (ah, so young, so naive..) and we’re already in debt to ourselves, without even setting a foot outside of the country.
So… do the monkeys really need us?
I used these web resources to get a general idea of which vaccinations I would need. However, if you’re going to be traveling, I’d recommend that you see your doctor sooner rather than later to discuss your specific vaccination needs based on your travel schedule, route and planned activities- and so that you can begin scheduling time for the various doses and budgeting money for the potentially exorbitant costs! Costs can vary greatly depending on your provider, location and specific insurance plan.
Don’t forget that some vaccinations are only good for a few years so you may need to get them again if they don’t take you through the end of your trip.
Bootsnall- the one-stop indie travel guide, which also includes an extensive round-the-world planning section
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention- this website has enormous resources and information regarding health and safety at home and abroad. Best of all, you can search for vaccinations and up-to-the-minute health notices (like outbreaks) by location.
World Health Organization- the coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system. The website contains extensive country health profiles as well as articles on important health topics.