Nooooo, this post doesn’t deal with vodka shots; although, maybe we should have gone with that instead of the ones in the arm!
This is an important topic which most people push to a later date (even though I started my vaccinations 4 months in advance, I still could not get full rounds of all that I needed). If you are planning to travel, especially long term, I suggest making immunizations your number one priority.
First, figure out where you want to go (or have a general idea) as this will help you understand which vaccines you will need/want. Some, you will need to start 6 months before leaving, so make sure you get going asap! Vaccines are extremely expensive, but if you are lucky enough to have great medical insurance, then go all out and get as many as you can. If your medical insurance doesn’t cover all vaccines, then go for the “must haves” and the rest you can figure out as you travel. Many folks said to just get some of the expensive vaccines abroad, but to be honest, I do not know where these vaccines are coming from and how well they are refrigerated; so, I chose to keep it safe and get all that I could at home.
Based on our travel plans throughout S. America and SE Asia, we have decided on the following:
- Flu Vaccine: a no brainer but not a must have!
- Yellow Fever (this is required when you have traveled to countries with the risk of yellow fever and are entering other countries which need proof). You will need a yellow card which shows that you have received this vaccine.
- Hepatitis A (3 shots in the series). This is one of the vaccines that you must start 6 months before leaving. Unfortunately, I was only able to get 1 of 3, which should last me 6 months to 1 year.
- Hepatitis B (3 shots in the series). Again, I was only able to get 2 shots out of the 3, which should last me for 6 months to 1 year.
- Japanese Encephalitis (2 shots in the series; must be 28 days apart). This shot is only needed for remote areas in SE Asia and it protects you from a certain mosquito type. Being that mosquito’s tend to adore me, I decided to stay on the safe side and get both shots; Kieran decided to pass on this one.
- Rabies (3 shots in the series; second shot is 7 days after the first and the third shot is on day 28). These are pre-exposure shots only. If you get bit by a dog or a bat (does happen in S. America), then you would still need to go to the hospital and get post exposure shots (3 more). I am glad I got the rabies vaccine as there are homeless dogs all over S. America and since I automatically run to pet a dog, this vaccine will be important for me.
- TDAP (tetanus, diphtheria, pertusis)
- Polio (likely had it as a child)
- Chicken Pox (likely had it as a child)
- Tuberculosis (likely had it as a child)
- Parotitis (likely had it as a child)
- Measles (likely had it as a child)
Tada! After all of the above, my arms looked like swiss cheese. Enjoy!