Health and Safety – Vaccines

There are so many things I want to write about the preparations that It becomes hard to put them in the right order. About health in travels there is so much to say as well, so today I will focus on the basics of the basics – vaccines. There are people against it as well as there are people for it. But leaving behind all the “NOs”, when going into the trip to exotic/tropic countries, at the end of the day the vaccine can save your life. I personally know some people who traveled without vaccines, who are perfectly fine and say that it is not that necessary. Well. It might be their case, but doesn’t have to be mine. Or yours. So I would advise you to think about it twice before you go. So don’t be afraid of needles, cause you won’t even notice when it’s out. I know it, been there. And I’m still alive.

Some countries won’t even let you in before you don’t get yourself vaccinated against the most “popular” diseases they require. There are also vaccines, which are not required, but recommended.

Before you go, it would be good to do some research on the internet and read about the country you want to go to. I mean about the diseases of course. It would be good that you’d know at least what is the disease causing, whether it is fatal or not, and so. About that I think there is no better source than the WHO. You can find the link here: http://www.who.int/ith/chapters/ith2012en_chap6.pdf

Another thing I would like to strongly recommend you is to check which diseases are common in the country you are going to visit. You can do it at this website: http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/travel/vaccines/

When you already know which vaccines you need, it would be wise to check your medical history for the vaccinations in the past, as we get vaccinated mostly in our childhood and those vaccines are valid sometimes for our entire life, sometimes for a specific time (like tetanus – 10 years). A repeated vaccine shot won’t harm us but it’s just not worth the money.

Now, when you already are well prepared, ask your doctor or check in the internet for the vaccination centres in your city. It’s important to consult your trip with the specialists who will advise you which vaccines you need, and which not. You may ask now “Why was I supposed to read all about it if I ask about it my doctor and he tells me the same thing? Isn’t it a waste of time?”. No it’s not. A little bit of knowledge won’t harm you. I don’t mean that the doctor will lie to you, but with some background on the topic you can ask more questions about things that concern you. I will focus below on the vaccine against Rabies as I decided to go for it, as there is no cure against it, so when you don’t get to the doctor on time you are as good as dead. And with my luck.. yah, I won’t take the risk.

Few words about the vaccines. To be exact – 5 things:

  • There are different companies producing vaccines, which means that the prices differ as well. And the main difference between them? Well, not the content, as they need to contain the same things. So the difference here would be the way they are creating the vaccine. It should be possible to combine some vaccines, for example RABI-PUR and VERORAB against Rabies. By combining I mean for example 1st and 2nd shot of one vaccine and the 3rd of another. But you always should consult it with the doctor to be sure that they are compatible, as I said – there are many vaccines.
  • Before you go to the vaccination centre, you may want to check the prices, as they may be lower or higher in different centres, or countries. Example: I live in Brno, Czech Republic and there is a private vaccination centre https://www.ockovacicentrum.cz/cz/cenik and public one http://www.ockovanibrno.cz/Ockovani .As I will be travelling in the upcoming weeks, I needed to check whether I can get a shot in another country to not to come especially for the vaccine to Czech Republic. And so, the prices for V. against Rabies in Germany vary around 65Euro and Typhus 28Euro. In Poland it is 150zł (around 40Euro) for Rabies and 205zł (around 50Euro) for Typhus. In other Czech city – Ostrava – which is just behind the border the prices are 15Euro for Rabies and 25Euro for Typhus http://www.fno.cz/oddeleni-pracovniho-a-preventivniho-lekarstvi/cenik-sluzeb .You may say that it’s not worth to check it, but against some diseases you need more shots and in this case the game might be worth the candle, especially when (and here comes the next point:
  • It is possible to receive two different vaccines at once (into two arms), but it is not possible to get them one after another (in time). The time between the vaccines should be at least two weeks. The only exception I know about is a vaccine against Rabies, which you must take in specific time (mine on day 0, 7 and 21/28) and it depends on the vaccine as well. So ask your doctor about it before you will get it so it won’t collide with any other plans you have for that time, or you will need to get another, 4th shot.
  • As my doc said, always start with vaccines against Hepatitis in order to protect your liver from the next vaccines. The viruses are dead anyways, but still it is recommended to do it that way. And as we have just one liver, I always do what my doc says 🙂
  • And the last, but not least important thing. Vaccines + Antibiotics (ATB) = combine them or not? I had a situation with the dentist and didn’t really know what to do, as after the dentist I was supposed to take ATB. I read on the Internet, that I shouldn’t do it as my body won’t produce enough antibodies to the vaccine, which sounds pretty reasonable to me. But with checking anything in the internet you can consider yourself lucky, when you find out you have cancer and not something worse. So again, after a week I went for the 2nd shot agains Rabies and I asked my doc what should I do and she explained to me, that in my case the antibiotics would focus on the gums/teeth so they won’t get inflammanted and won’t influence the vaccine itself, so I was free to take them (which I didn’t do in the end, as the dentist called off the appointment). Anyways, always remember to ask your doctor about your conserns, not the Internet 🙂

And in the end, 2 last tips for you!

When you want to contact the vaccination centre in Poland, please do it via phone, and don’t write them e-mails (on the phone you will get the anwer asap). I’ve been sending them the same question about the vaccine against Hep.A for a week and already thought they either ignored it or didn’t receive it. But I was wrong. They just work too slow, because everything has to be “official”. So I got an answer – signed and stamped on the headed paper. Viva la Bureaucracy!

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