Have shots for experiences and shots like these!
You've booked your dream safari in Africa, or will be off in the wilds of malaria and denghi fever infested jungles.
Amidst the excitement comes the visit to the travel doctors for the necessary vaccinations for the countries you will be travelling through. Yes, often, for gain, there is sometimes a little pain, especially if you are heading to countries where yellow fever vaccinations are virtually mandatory for re-entry to your country of origin.
Now your travel vaccinations may feel like a whole lot of physical and financial pain, but, believe me, to contract any of the diseases your vaccinations should cover you for is worth the inconvenience. Typhoid, Cholera and Yellow Fever are debilitating diseases, that often result in organ damage at best and at worst, death, but talk to your travel doctor about what, if any course of jabs will be either mandatory or recommended in relation to your destination(s)!
Make sure you plan plenty of time for your shots, if you have a number of them to undergo, as only a couple can be given on any one day and some, like Hepatitus A and B or Rabies require a course of shots, with a specified interval between shots.
For Kenya and Tanzania, I was required to have Yellow Fever and Typhoid. It was recommended I have Hepatitus A and B and I chose to have rabies and adult polio vaccinations, as well as a flu shot.
When I checked on my last tetanus immunisation, it was actually overdue. As I am a regualr gardener I was rather ashamed that my tetanus shot was out of date.
In all, I had a series of 11 injections, mainly over a course of six weeks, with a final Hepatitis A and B vaccination some eight months later.
My course of injections cost over $600, so make sure you factor these vaccinations into your budget and also allow for anti malarial drugs, which too, can be very costly, with Malarone costing about Australian $100 a box. There are alternatives to Malarone, but I am allergic to them, so don't have a lot of choice.
It saddens me that some people are so afraid of injections, that they sacrifice going to destinations of their dreams because of this phobia.
The best way to minimise pain during a vaccination is to relax your arm as far as possible. distractions can help, as do yoga relaxation techniques. The minute you tense muscles in anticipation of pain, the pain will be magnified. Relax and you barely feel a thing.
The yellow "International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis" will be given to you on your first appointment to begin your travel jabs. Keep it up to date and with your passport. Always keep a photocopy both at home and with your travel documents in case the original gets lost. You will not be admitted to some countries , or readmitted to your own, in some instances, unless relevant vaccinations are up to date!
I was lucky. My reactions to my shots were minimal, getting a bit dizzy for an hour or two after my typhoid shot. My yellow fever vaccination has left me with an occasionally tingly tip of my nose, but could have been way worse. This tingling can last for anything up to 10 years. It is most pronounced if I am really tired, mostly it is barely noticable and certainly not painful. It's a bit like a souvenir of my travels; a kind of initiation into destinations that herald real adventure and wilderness experiences with wild animals!
I would much rather suffer from the occasional tingling in the tip of my nose, than not having been to Kenya or Tanzania, destinations and experiences I had dreamed of for my entire life. Close encounters with animals in their natural habitat and wonderful local people, scenery and ecosystems!
Soon, I am heading to South America, so it's back to the travel doctor for maybe another shot or two. Luckily most of my vaccinations are up to date!
Fiona Ludbrook was born in Ballarat but spent much of her adult life as an educator in Melbourne.