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  • Kim Dayman
  • "How diligent are you with travel vaccinations?"

Kim Dayman

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How diligent are you with travel vaccinations?

I've been all over  Europe, Central America and The Caribbean (I'm from North America) and have never had any travel vaccines, and contracting only one case of Giardia which I picked up in Cuba. Now I'm travelling to SE Asia for the first time and getting so many conflicting opinions on how important travel vaccinations are. I know some countries require certain shots before you enter but hearing some people say they've travelled all over with only minimally required shots while staying in high risk areas and have never had a problem in 10 years, while another story about a friend who got all her shots, travelled to an luxury urban area and caught typhoid. Also after asking friends a lot of people get conflicting info from different doctors depending on who you go to.

I'm curious fellow travellers, how diligent are you in getting your shots and how important is it in your list of travel prep? Success and horror stories welcomed!  

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16 Answers

  • Mimi Kalland

    top answer by

    Anti malaria drugs may be more important. We spent several weeks in and around Thailand - checked with Dr; no warnings. But we forgot to say we were going to spend 3 days at Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Never saw a mosquito, never got a bite, but I came down with malaria 2 MONTHS LATER. The cure was horrific - five days in the hospital taking massive doses of antibiotics and quinine. I'm told the anti malaria drugs are not fun to take, but getting cured of malaria is much much worse.

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    • JR J.

      JR J.

      thanks for sharing Mimi. We always here people sharing stories about not taking any meds and being fine. Which makes the incorrect assumption that because they got lucky, then others will be fine too. Thank you for sharing what sounds like a very difficult time in your life. I'm sure many others will learn from it and hopefully be safe. · (1 likelikes)

    • Kim D.

      Kim D.

      I agree with JR J. I appreciate hearing your experience and thank you for sharing. Too often you hear about people who rolled the dice and are fine and it makes the risk seem not as high which can be dangerous message. Very glad you're healthy and recovered <3 · (0 likelikes)

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  • Valerie van der Meij

    answered by

    Three months ago i have travelled to Indonesia and visited the islands of Sumatra, Java and Bali. In Sumatra i spend several days in a high risk zone in the jungle with lots of mosquitos. Even though i used Anti mosquito gel i got bitten every single day. I am very happy that i took all my vaccinations and anti malaria pills during that time. I was extra happy that i got my Hep B vaccination when i was admitted in an Indonesian hospital after tripping and they wanted to put a needle in my foot. The procedure was very sloppy. In my three months in Indonesia i ve been in a lot of high risk situations for diseases as malaria en hepatitis. Just because other people never caught anything without the protection doesn't mean you will be as lucky. Over all i would say: better safe than sorry

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  • Justin Schmid

    answered first by

    I'm very diligent about it. I got vax for yellow fever, typhoid and Hep when I went to Vietnam. I don't see a reason not to do it.

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    • Kim D.

      Kim D.

      A lot of people see cost as a prohibitive factor, and as someone without health benefits that extend to travel vaccines, I can see their point of view as it's hundreds of dollars in additional cost. That said I think it's important to find out what you need and factor that into the cost of travelling otherwise you might end up spending thousands on a trip you can't experience due to illness and risking possible death. · (0 likelikes)

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  • Jenifer Duke

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    answered by

    I just returned from a trip to Myanmar, Vietnam, and Hong Kong and I was very diligent about getting any and all vaccinations/meds. It's not cheap (I think I paid more than $300 just for the vaccinations), but it's better to be safe than sick. I also took an oral typhoid, as well as oral antimalarial meds (Malarone). I had zero side effects from either, although I was excited about the "vivid dreams" my friends told me I'd get with Malarone, which I didn't get.

    As far as I know I didn't pick up anything, although I did get sick on the trip. I did however pick up a nasty stomach parasite in Vietnam which the traveler's diarrhea meds didn't help with at all. But you can't vaccinate against stomach parasites soooo.. :(

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    • Kim D.

      Kim D.

      Ohh the nurse never told me about vivid dreams from Malarone, I love those they always make great stories :) As someone who's also had a stomach parasite I feel ya! Only wish there was something to ward off those nasty things :( · (0 likelikes)

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  • Seoulsfgirl :)

    answered by

    When I went to the travel clinic before traveling abroad extensively, I asked the nurse how to decide what shots to get. I just recall her saying it was up to me to kind fo weigh the pros and cons. Meaning, are you going to be putting yourself into risky situations like farms, forests, 3rd world countries, etc. I recall one situation where we went to Hawaii and was not aware of anything going on. I recall we got into this situation where we stopped at a stand and there was a empty cart with a sign that said, Dengue Fever Warning. I recall regretting not having researched more about it and wondered if we should even be setting foot outside our car in that situation. Looking back, I would have either not gone to that isolated spot or we would have looked into taking precautions in advance. So just figure out where your going and kind of figure out where you will be going and how remote your locations will be. Then decide once you get into the clinic based on what they recommend. I hope that helps somewhat. I guess I would also weigh if that country has good medical care and/or access for you to that. Good Luck. hope this helps!

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    • Polly B.

      Polly B.

      No need to feel guilty on this one - dengue has no vaccine yet! Just use tons of bug spray and dress to repel mosquitoes. · (0 likelikes)

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  • Jacey & Scott Mahaffy

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    answered by

    With respect to some diseases, we are very diligent. Hepatitis for sure (which are lifetime vaccinations). Oral Typoid is another we keep up on if you are in prone areas (good for 5 years). Tetenus is another we keep up. Otherwise, the only other things we've done is pills for malaria if in those affected areas.

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  • Clancy Douglas Cail

    answered by

    I always get every vaccination suggested for my destination. The cost of being sick (time off work, medication, general misery) far outweighs the cost of the vaccine. Also, I don't find myself worrying about catching a potentially deadly disease when I should be relaxed and enjoying myself.

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  • Danielle Filius

    answered by

    I always go for the vaccinations... But last november I got ill in Cuba! Hepatitis! Horrible... Im still recovering from it! Home for 2 months now... (It wasn't hepatitis A, B or C, i've got those vaccinations...)

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  • Polly Beam

    answered by

    Being an uninsured American, getting travel vaccines adds up quickly. On my last big trip, I decided to skip all suggested vaccinations except for one - yellow fever. While it was expensive (~$200 USD), yellow fever has a 5-10% fatality rate and no cure. The vaccine generally protects you for ten years, so it's a good investment. Plus, upon getting it, your doctor will also give you a 'Carte Jaune', which is required to enter certain countries after traveling to affected areas and is like your own little travel health passport.

    However, I made the decision to not take malaria medication, even though I was traveling to Manaus. I'd taken it in the past in South Africa, but the factors that went into my decision were as follows - I was only going to be in an affected area for a short while and was already taking precautions against mosquitoes because of dengue, the majority of cases in South America are from a less dangerous species of the parasite than in Africa, the drug I was prescribed can have nasty side-effects, and I'd known two people in the past five years who took preventative meds and got malaria anyway. In the end, I did my research and weighed the pros and cons, but I also got lucky.

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  • Lynn Farrell

    answered by

    Not diligent at all, so far. The only vaccinations I got was when I went to South Africa (can't even remember what I got.. yellow fever? cholera? I did take malaria medication). If I ever get to India, I will get whatever vaccinations are necessary. Otherwise, I've never worried about it.

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    • Andrea M S.

      Andrea M S.

      It is well worth the money to get all the recommended vaccinations and a measles booster! My father-in-law. A frequent traveller to Asia, Africa, Thailand, and Europe, did not get his vaccinations and died at 66 as a result!!! You can 't be too careful with your health--shots are money well spent! · (0 likelikes)

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  • Roxanne Cormier

    answered by

    I follow the adviseries of Healt Canada, depending on the destnation And types of traveling ( trecking vs city tourism). But i make sure the basic recalls are made, such as tetanos ( every 10 years ).

    You can find more info on the canadian goverment's web site or at a traveler's clinic near you. At these traveler's clinic they will also suggest prescriptions depending on your own health situation or sensitivities.

    Remember some vaccinations must be taken months in advance in one or more injections.

    Bether safe than sorry !

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  • Andy Huang

    Trippy Ambassadors are elite members of the community, hand picked to help you travel better! Interested? E-mail us at ambassadors@trippy.com.

    answered by

    Hi Kim,

    I lived in Manila for 3 years between 2006 and 2009. During that time I traveled throughout the country to all types of different places. I did not catch any serious diseases.

    I've been back there twice for 2 weeks each and I don't bother getting any vaccinations. Mosquitoes are a problem but you probably won't catch anything unless you're going deep into the jungles or something. Even then I don't think the risks are that high.

    However, I've known several friends who have caught Dengue fever, but they've all be locals and not travelers or expats.

    So I would say your decision depends on your risk profile. I personally won't bother with vaccinations, but if it gives you peace of mind, then maybe it's worth it.

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  • Brian Huang

    Trippy Ambassadors are elite members of the community, hand picked to help you travel better! Interested? E-mail us at ambassadors@trippy.com.

    answered by

    If you're traveling to Asia, make sure you get your hepatitis shots. Since it can be transmitted through sharing of food. That's pretty common in Asian culture.

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    • Kim D.

      Kim D.

      Got Hep A and B covered - thanks for the tip! · (1 likelikes)

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  • Elliott Lowen

    answered by

    I believe you do not always need vaccinations to travel abroad, but I think it is more of a function on which country you are visiting and what you are doing. I believe there are certain risks I just do not want to take, so I get vaccinated for them. They include diphtheria, polio and tetanus booster, typhoid, hepatitis and cholera.

    Yellow Fever, tuberculosis, rabies, meningitis, encephalitis I think are more a function of countries, when you are going, where you are staying, your age, what are you doing - such as volunteering, and your contact with animals. I know there are special considerations for compromised immune systems, and if you are pregnant.

    Giardia is a bummer. No matter where I go, I always carry my Platypus GravityWorks water filter

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    • Kim D.

      Kim D.

      Having just visited the travel clinic yesterday, your advice was similar to the nurses - thanks! I got my basics and wasn't a high risk for encephalitis etc. so after weighing the pros and cons I passed on those. Giardia was a bummer! Especially since I was in a group of 6 on a resort and was the only one who got sick and I was down and out for weeks with longterm side effects. · (0 likelikes)

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  • Hazel B

    answered by

    Always up to date. I am my own pharmacy. I wear mask and gloves through airport. Didn't get sick this year through O Hare and Atlanta

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  • Matt S

    answered by

    I always get 'em.

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