Part I of this series was generally useless if you actually care about the logistics of planning for an extended stay in South America. This part will be a bit more dense and hopefully less entertaining. I say hopefully because I recognize that it is possible that you did not find the first post worth your time.
Check with your insurance provider to see if they will cover your immunizations. If you don't have insurance, welcome to America. I would advise that you try to marry somebody that does have it because this shit is expensive. We were fortunate that our provider covered all of our vaccines except for yellow fever. We also had to pay $65 out of pocket for the required health department consultation.
Despite Utah's abhorrence for any and all public services, we have a decent public health clinic. Every time I have traveled abroad I have received my shots from a public clinic. They take walk-ins, the service is good, and they're cheap. Check with your local health department to see what services they provide.
I have also read about travel clinics. I've never used them. I've heard that they are expensive, but sometimes carry the more obscure vaccines if you are going to a place with some of the more "exotic" illnesses.
Prices can vary depending on where you get them. Here are all of the immunizations that were recommended for me based on where I was travelling. It should be noted that you may not need all of these and that you likely already have some of them if you went to public schools in the US. For example, I already had the following:
And I am not getting the rabies vaccine because I generally will not be coming into contact with animals any more than I would here in the states. Depending on which areas you're going to, Malaria may not be an issue either. Different treatments for conditions such as malaria may work better in some parts of the world than others.
Prices will vary depending on where you get your immunizations, most of the prices that I have posted are from the CDC website and from my notes. It is probably a good time to note that I am not a health care professional in any way shape or form and that you should consult one if you are considering any of this stuff.
|Vaccine||$/Treatment||Qty||Total Cost||Form||Good for||Booster advised?|
|DTaP/Td/Tdap (Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis)||$45.00||1||$45.00||Injection||10 Years|
Don't let the price tag get you down. You probably already have most of these, and your insurance will probably cover most of the rest. I paid $215 for the consultation and the yellow fever vaccine which my insurance company did not cover. Everything else was on them.
Here are a few things that I learned. Some are useful, some are interesting, some are F#@$ing scary.
Malaria is damn near everywhere. The pills taste like shit and might make you hallucinate. You don't need to take them unless you're in an at risk area. They're not a guarantee. I hate to say it, but a 35% DEET repellent is a good decision in these areas and Permithren will stay in clothing for up to 90 days. For some reason mosquitoes like Soph more than me. The only time I get bitten is when she wears repellent.
They gave me a giant packet of disclaimers with this vaccine. One possible side effect is death. They tell me I'm low risk for that..... Interesting tidbit is that there is currently no FDA approved vaccine in the US. The company that makes it had a machine go down. They're in the middle of building a new facility and decided that it is not worth repairing the old machine. In the mean time they are allowing access to another vaccine that has been used in many other countries for decades. Yellow fever is also the only vaccination that could be required to enter some countries. They may check for proof of vaccination at an airport and refuse entry if you have not had it.
At the end of the day it is all about common sense. Vaccines can help, but not everyone can afford them. Try to have good hygiene practices, be aware of what you eat and drink and where it came from. And don't engage in generally stupid behavior like unprotected sex and sharing of drug needles. Stay clean.