Travel Shots – Get ’em or Skip ’em?

In the past, I’ve gone to get travel shots at two different times. The first time, I got a ton of them before my trip to Hong Kong. The second time, I think, was before I went to Mexico. What did I get each time? Honestly, I have no idea. I went to a travel clinic that no longer exists, and while I’m sure they gave me a little booklet with my immunizations to keep in my file (or give to my doctor), I don’t know what I did with it. And, I’m not sure why I felt I needed travel shots either time as I was going to well developed areas. I think I was just scared and thought it worthwhile to be “better safe than sorry”.

Same thing happened for this trip. Since this is an organized trip through Rotary International, we would have to get vaccinations if they were mandatory to enter the countries we’ll be visiting. There are no mandatory shots for Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. So, it was up to us and our doctors if we wanted to get any.

I went to see my doctor and after discussing the shots I know I had in the past (tetanus booster and Hep A/B), he got out his big book of diseases (at least that’s what I assumed it was) and asked where specifically I was going. Apparently, it would be helpful to know more about the towns I’ll be visiting. While I assume they are all built up villages, I’ve got no clue just how urban they will be, or how mosquito filled, etc. So, my doc told me what he thought I should definitely have (polio, typhoid, and Hep A), and what he would get if he were going (meningitis). He separated them onto two scripts so I could do my research and weigh the costs and benefits.

After talking to a friend who is a doctor, I decided to do them all. I do plan to travel more in the future, so why not? Then I found out the cost. The optional shot was $134 and my health plan doesn’t cover any of them, so I thought more about it. I talked to another doctor I know, and he said it wasn’t necessary… I did my own research over the weekend, and I agree, unless I plan on going to Africa in the next five years, it really isn’t necessary. And now that I cancelled that one, going against what my doctor suggested, I sure hope I was right.

If you haven’t guessed by now reading my blog, I over think and worry about so many little things. I read my travel guide for two hours the other night after going to bed. However, it does make me feel more prepared. Though now I’m worried about those 10 metre pythons that live in Southeast Asia. I sure hope I don’t see any of those!Image


Prep Time

The trip is still a few months away, but a lot of the prep work is getting done now – doctor’s appointments, insurance quotes, information gathering, and sending more information about myself to the organizing team. 

My doctor has cleared me to travel. I didn’t expect any different. He just basically had to confirm that I am well enough, both physically and mentally, to take on a month of travel. I knew it wasn’t going to be an issue, but one never knows until the form is signed, and signed it is. Luckily, while I was there, he also let me know that he can do travel vaccinations! One less thing that I will have to figure out, though now I have a list of vaccines, all optional, that I have to decide if I want to get jabbed into me… Decisions, decisions…. 

Travel insurance seemed to be the trickiest part of this round of preparations for the trip. I had a hard time finding a company that could offer all the parts that I needed to sign off on. Specifically, I needed more for repatriation of remains than most companies offer. However, I finally found a plan that works. CAA Travel and Medical was the plan that I went with as they have a general limit, not a limit for specific things. (At least, I think that’s what they said – I just made sure that they verified that they covered all the specifications I had, and they confirmed.)

We also had to submit our bios this week. This will help the team over in Asia to find our vocational placements and our host families. Other than trying to put into simple words what it is I do for a living (never easy), only one thing made me stop and think… “I would prefer to be placed in the same homestay as a fellow team member” to which you answer “yes”, “no” or “no preference”. The introvert, scaredy-cat in me wants to place a big X in the box for “yes” and circle and highlight it. But, I know that I will not have the same experience if I do. In a situation where I’m shy, tired, or out of my comfort zone (which I expect to be much of my trip), I will take the easy way out if there is another person there, and let them do all the talking, especially if they are at all chatty. If I do that, I know I won’t get as much out of this trip. So, I hesitantly checked “no preference” and will let the homestays come as they will. 

The time is going quickly. The next stage of our prep will be to do more research on the areas we’ll be visiting, and working on what we can share with them.