Travel exposes you to a lot of new experiences. Some of them wonderful – others not so much. Depending on where you go you might be exposed to diseases that have long been eradicated in the US or Europe.
Also some countries require you to show proof of immunization before you can go through immigration. Most notably many countries in Africa and South America require a ‘Yellow Fever’ immunization in your records before you can pass through immigration. This requirement is often waived if you come in directly from the US or Europe but if you stop in another country (i.e. Panama or Ethiopia), even without leaving the airport, you are subject to showing proof of immunization.
Travel immunizations can be a bit perplexing but it’s really easy once you know what to do.
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Low cost travel immunizations – What immunizations do you need
The CDC maintains a great website at cdc.gov that highlights the specific risk for a country and the type of traveler.
As more time you spend outdoors, near live stock or in rural areas as more ‘at risk’ you are. That does not mean you have to stay indoors just because you are going to an ‘at-risk’ area but you should amp up the precautions.
If you just go to a country and go from office to 4 star hotel you likely have a much lower risk profile but mosquitoes and food borne diseases can hit your everywhere!
A yellow fever shot is the first thing in your travel book – get this asap. It will protect you 10 days after the shot and last for 10 years at least.
The diseases is spread by mosquitoes and common in many parts of te world.
Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B
Hepatitis is a liver infection – Hepatitis A can be contracted by eating contaminated food, Hepatitis B needs bodily fluids to be contracted.
There is a dual vaccine called ‘Twinrix’ which gives you immunity for at least 10 years (likely longer). It requires 3 shots – one within 4 weeks of each other and another one a year later to be safe.
Typhoid fever can be contracted by contaminated food. There is a highly efficient vaccine available.
Malaria is a well-known mosquito born diseases that is viral in many countries. There is no vaccine (yet) against malaria but a number of drugs (which you should take before and during exposure to an infected area) that will likely prevent the diseases.
Low cost travel immunizations – Where to get them
Thankfully the cost of making a vaccine are low – extremely low. Twinrix can be bought be pharmacies by well under $10 per shot.
That does not mean you can get it at this price though.
US Travel clinics
Most major US cities have a ‘travel clinic’ – that will provide consulting services and shots. The usual rates are $50 per visit plus $100-$150 per shot mentioned above. This is an easy (though expensive option).
Your medical insurance will most likely not pay for this.
US Pharmacies – Walgreens / CVS/ Rite Aid / Walmart
Surprisingly most pharmacy outlets have these vaccinations readily available. They can run it through your insurance information and the pharmacist can apply a vaccination right away in store. You usually do NOT pay a visit fee and the vaccine is usually cheaper.
Should your insurance not pay you can use GoodRx (they also have a wonderful app) to locate the best prices for your neighborhood.
Walmart is usually the cheapest option.
Travel Clinics while you travel – i.e. Travel Clinic Bangkok
I went to the Travel Clinic in Bangkok last year and got a number of shots (all in one visit). Your medical insurance most likely wont pay (this is preventative and not emergency) but prices are very low – on average on fourth of what you pay in the US. You can pay by credit card (and earn miles) and the nurses seemed knowledgeable and efficient. The hospital where it is located easily matches the quality of hospital in San Francisco in terms of cleanliness and administration.
Other countries like Colombia also have the right conditions of advanced enough medical services and low cost infrastructure. A Twinrix shot (Hepatitis A and B) for example that costs $150 in the US costs $42 in Bogota ($32 in Bangkok).