They have to say it doesn’t hurt

Big, huge, important, and this sh!& is getting real! That is how to best explain a trip to the travel clinic for vaccinations. Of course, this is not mandatory. We volunteered. At least my husband and I had a sense of what we were getting into, but our teens just had to go with it. They couldn’t really refuse. And they were the ones most up to date with their regular shots. But my husband was another matter.

Let’s just say this now, we are a family who believes in vaccination. If you are not in the same camp as us, stop reading now. This is a personal decision, particularly for keeping adult vaccinations up to date. I am not judging anyone’s decision, because I believe everyone has a right to control their own body. We think any super, tiny risks outweigh the benefits. 

OK, that is done – disclaimer made!

The travel clinic appointment starts with a lengthy consultation. That cost is $30 CAD each and worth every penny, in my opinion. We discussed all the pros and cons for every place we were planning to travel to and most particularly the countries we are committed to. Luckily, the places we are booked don’t have the worst prospects, for possible diseases we could end up getting. But, South-East Asia is a hotbed of possible outcomes that our Northern bodies have not built up antibodies to fight. That is a fact.

We started with food and water problems. Hepatitis A and typhoid. I had twinrix, (Hep A&B years ago),  but couldn’t remember if I had all 3 doses, so a booster was in order. My husband probably should have had this already, but had not. None of us had ever needed to be protected from typhoid fever before. We all got both of these shots.

Then we moved onto mosquito nasties. Oh my, that is a long list. Malaria, dengue, Japanese encephalitis, rift valley fever, zika fever….and on it goes. Malaria needs a consultation with a doctor in Canada, so that requires another appointment. We decided to get our shots for Japanese encephalitis at a SOS clinic in Bangkok when we arrive. And the others are only prevented by diligent application of mosquito repellent. We are going to smell like DEET for about 3 months, morning, noon and night.

At this point, my son asked, “Why are we doing this?” After being warned off touching anything alive, dogs, cats, monkey’s and camels, you have to wonder if we are going to be living in a bubble? So don’t touch anything – check.

If one of us accidentally gets bit by a monkey, (or another rabid animal), we will have evacuation medical insurance, if we need it. Rabies shots at $200 CAD X 3, each – do not protect you if bitten. In country, you still need 2 more rounds of shots. So we opted for paying extra special care and attention to the wild creatures around us and then, if a situation occurs, treat it accordingly.

Routine stuff needed updates. 3 of us needed tetanus and in the case of my daughter, she had a bundle of things in hers that will be due in a couple of months as her standard grade 9 inoculation. My husband and I couldn’t remember when our last tetanus was, so it happened today.

Finally my husband needed MMR, measles, mumps, rubella. Evidently you need one adult booster. Particularly if you were born before 1970 and cannot confirm if you had measles as a child. Unfortunately, his Mom didn’t have his childhood records and there is no way to know what he had been given otherwise. There is no national register.

My daughter did not want her picture taken, but later consented to using this image!

So it went like this:

  • 4 shots for my husband, (one on the back of his arm) and 1 more next month
  • 3 each for my daughter and me
  • my son got away with 2

We all have sore arms. I think the lingering pain is far worse than getting the needle poked into the muscle, it has to get right in there. We all feel a little numb in fact. Everyone kind of wants to do their own thing tonight. My husband feels like we are finally getting ready to go. Like getting a needle stabbed into you, makes it real like nothing else can. Planning and paying for stuff is all digital. This is in your face, (not literally of course.)

Because we opted out of rabies, (to the tune of $2,400 CAD total) and we deferred Japanese encephalitis until we arrive in Thailand, the damage was just over $500 CAD. Malaria pills will be expensive, I think. But that is for another day.
I only feel gratitude right now for the extreme privilege that we live with, here in Canada. We have the ability to easily spend a couple of hours deciding which vaccines we want. We have good health, to begin with. We are extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to travel. It is a good deal, all around.

Join us. As a family, we are taking a year to experience life from different perspectives. We will dive into communities and live like locals. In ancient sites, we will imagine where people once stood, as we follow in their footsteps.

Be sure to connect with any of the platforms below to stay up to date with our journey! I welcome:

Comments: 1

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    July 6, 2017

    Fun photo! Parker survived all of his vaccine shots…but when he had to drink the dukoral oral vaccine this week he had some choice words about the taste!

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