Shots Shots Shots Shots Everybody!

As you might have seen on my to-do list, one of the items I needed to cross off was getting all the immunizations and medications that I would need on my trip.

Based on a recommendation from another Travel Blog, I headed to Capitol Travel Medicine in Arlington, VA. I was able to make an appointment for a consultation during which time they would review my shot record, recommend immunizations and medications and educate me on any potential health risks that I might not realize.

Travel Vaccinations can be one of the largest hidden cots of a trip. When I went to Ghana I had to drop over $700 to get fully protected. Luckily that trip was for work so it was fully covered. This time…not such luck. I knew the the variety of countries I was visiting would have a lot of medical requirements, so, I made an appointment and braced myself for a large bill.

Here’s how it shook out:

The doctor recommended the following shots for my trip.

  • Hepatitis A – $85
  • MMR – $70
  • Hepatitis B – $40
  • Influenza – $25
  • Polio – $40
  • Japanese Encephalitis – $250
  • Tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis – $65
  • Typhoid Fever – $75
Woof. Luckily a quick perusal of my shot record showed I was up to date for Hepatitis A and B, Polio, and MMR. I opted to get my Flu shot through my regular provider since I believe it will be covered by my insurance.
As for Japanese Encephalitis, I don’t have enough time before my trip to get the full series so I had to skip that shot. That left be with Tetanus and Typhoid. Adding in the $35 consultation fee brought my total to $175.
So not horrible. I also got some prescription medications for my trip including:
  • Antibiotics for travelers diarrhea or other bacterial infections
  • Altitude sickness pills for hiking to Everest Base Camp
  • Malaria Pills
I haven’t made it to the pharmacy yet, but no doubt those will also add to my total costs.

Here are a few tips on vaccinations if you are planning your own around the world trip:

Do Some Research

I highly recommend that you do your own research before you head to the doctor. The CDC web site offers all the information you will need and it can help you make some informed decisions before you are on the hot seat in the doctor’s office. These travel clinics are for profit business and will try to sell you on expensive vaccinations that the CDC lists as optional or unnecessary for the area you are visiting.

For example, if you are going to China, malaria pills are not necessary if you are only visiting large cities. However, the doctor may recommend them if they are unaware of your itinerary. If you go in knowing you don’t plan to visit rural areas, you can decline and save some cash.

Bring Your Shot Record

Every traveler should get a yellow shot booklet. These booklets, which should be kept with your passport and brought with you when you travel. They serve as a record of all immunizations so that your doctor will be aware of which ones have expired or need a booster.

I get confused with how long the various shots last, which ones last forever, and which ones require boosters. The shot record is easy to hand over the the doctor so they can make accurate recommendations. If you don’t have your record, and aren’t sure which shots you have, the doctor will suggest you get shots just to be safe and you could waste serious money on vaccinations you don’t need.

Know Your Insurance

Most travel clinics don’t take travel insurance. You have the option to file with your carrier to get reimbursed, but many of these shots aren’t covered by typical insurance since they are considered elective. I recommend that you check out which ones are covered ahead of time and get these shots given by your regular provider. This will go a long way in saving money for your trip.

Most Important: Your Health Is Valauble

The tips above are all about saving money – but your health is way more important than your money. Don’t skip an impotent shot or medication to save cash. Suffering form some horrible disease while overseas – far from family and your normal medical providers is an experience that no one wants. Be smart and get the correct vaccinations. Also, make sure you go to a doctor several weeks before your trip as many shots take a few weeks to become effective.



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One Response to Shots Shots Shots Shots Everybody!

  1. Hannah says:

    I have my consultation with the travel nurse next week to find out what vaccinations I need. This is definitely one of the things that makes me feel lucky to be British, as we don’t have to pay for our shots, so my travel budget stays healthy too! One tip for you though is to buy your medication abroad. I always pick up things like Ciprofloxacin antibiotics and malaria pills when I travel, as they are available over the counter everywhere for a tiny fraction of what you will pay in the USA.

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