This is in no way a replacement for going to see your doctor or pop into a travel clinic. However, I struggled to figure out online what vaccines I would need and how to prepare myself for the financial cost (and dead arms). There are so many different viruses, in different habitats that I felt overwhelmed by all the diseases and vaccines being reeled off on forums and websites.
Based on advice from my local doctor, a travel clinic and various official websites, these are the vaccines and medications I have for my trip to SE Asia (details of the trip here)
Vaccines I’ve had:
Both transmitted through contaminated food and water. Hep A can cause tiredness, sickness, high temperature, stomach pains. Although it’s rare that it will become life threatening, these are all symptoms nobody wants.
Typhoid is a little more serious and requires prompt diagnosis and use of antibiotics. Symptoms include all the above, but leaving it untreated could be fatal.
The vaccine is pretty standard in the UK, and any surgery can administer it free.
Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio
These are also free (as one vaccine – Revaxis) in the UK. This was mainly to cover me for Tetanus. The disease is extremely serious and can affect muscles and the respiratory system. It is also found worldwide, but is a higher risk in certain countries.
The rabies vaccine wasn’t essential, but was recommended to me. The three doses take 28 days, however I was able to receive an accelerated course (I only have 20 days). It is costly at £55 a dose, but lasts 10 years (maybe even longer).
I did ‘umm and ahh’ over this one. You still need treatment if you are bitten, but it’s all much more simple if you’ve had it and you’re much more likely to make recovery. I found it easy to tell myself I just wouldn’t go near animals. but many attacks by rabid animals are unprovoked.
I’m in low to no risk malaria areas, but I was recommended Malarone by my doctor and the travel clinic… so who am I to argue with two medical professionals? I’m pleased to have the peace of mind anyway. £45 is a small price to pay to not panic every time I am bitten.
The vaccines I didn’t have:
I am in a long-term relationship and not looking to go get any tattoos, so I should be ok for this. This might be more important if you are travelling long term (I’m only going for 10 days) and have a higher chance of needing medical attention at some point. Fingers crossed I won’t be making any trips to the doctors, and if I do I just have to ensure all medical equipment is sanitised.
I wasn’t sure whether I needed this or not. I’m not really staying anywhere rural and the risk of catching the virus (JEV) is so low, less than a million to one travellers get it. Again, because I’m going for ten days, risk is even lower. I wasn’t recommended this by either my GP surgery or the travel clinic, although I was advised to DEET up!
If you’re planning on making a trip to Asia, please check with a travel clinic. These are the vaccines I was advised about, but it could differ from doctor to doctor and person to person.
I’d also like to add that you should start looking into it well before you go away, I left it until a month before thinking I was organised. That being said, it is never too late to get covered for some of the must haves!