Better safe than sorry!
Today I went to the Institute of Tropical Medicine in my town here in Antwerp. Since I’ll be traveling to a lot of countries I’ve never been before, I figured the wise thing to do was to get preventive vaccines. Since it’s summer time now, the waiting time was quite long (1h30) and that for a consult of not more than 15 mins…. but in the end it’s a necessary wait if you WANT TO LIVE! *cue dramatic sfx*Anyhow, once I got in the room, the doctor quickly went through the form they had us fill in while waiting. On this form you indicate which countries and area’s you’ll be visiting and what shots you’ve had in the past. Before I could tell her that I’ll be going on a round-the-world-trip, she quickly told me some of the vaccines I needed to get based on the countries I filled in. She continued her explanation with very specific medical terms of vaccines of which I still don’t have a clue of what they mean but I better read up and educate myself before I get myself killed out there. I got a total of 4 shots today, 2 of which I need to get follow-up shots for. The good thing about the Institute of Tropical Medicin was that they really give you specific treatments and consults for traveling. The doctor gave me a bunch of printed out prescriptions for on-the-road medicin like: anti-itching cream, medicin for diarhea, anti-mosquito spray/cream and other survival medicin for tropical countries.
Rabies (3 shots)
When she suggested me the shot, I doubted that I’d get bitten by a stray dog or that I would actually go touch an animal corpse but you can never be too prepared when talking about your health. That and for some reason I have an image that there would be a lot of stray dogs running around in Thailand and Latin-America.
Typhoid fever is a common worldwide illness, transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person, which contain the bacterium Salmonella enterica, serovar Typhi.
Yes, I got this from wikipedia, so it proves how serious I am about this. On the road, in a foreign culture, eating “strange” food that you’re not accustomed to can be dangerous. Our stomaches might not be strong enough in some cases to kill of or fend off bacteria that the locals have been accustomed to. You’ll be eating at places but you never know how they prepare the food so precaution is needed.
The yellow fever virus is transmitted by the bite of female mosquitoes (the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, and other species) and is found in tropical and subtropical areas in South America and Africa, but not in Asia.
South-America was one of the continents that I was going to visit so this was a no-brainer to get. I do tend to attract mosquito’s quite badly in foreign countries. I’m not sure yet if I’ll be spending a lot of time in forests and jungle environments but when I do I just want to be prepared.
Japanese Encaphalitis (2 shots)
The Japanese encephalitis virus is a virus from the family Flaviviridae. Domestic pigs and wild birds are reservoirs of the virus; transmission to humans may cause severe symptoms. One of the most important vectors of this disease is the mosquito Culex tritaeniorhynchus. This disease is most prevalent in Southeast Asia and the Far East.
Again these disease-carrying killer mosquitoes. And these mosquitoes are apparently everywhere such as in: Cambodia, Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, Nepal, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Laos, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Maleisia, Korea and even Papua New-Guinea and part of Australia. So if you actually tend to go to these countries, I would advise you to get the shots.
This is like an all-in-one super shot that packs vaccines for several disease such as: piphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, poliomyelitis. In my country (Belgium) you can get this shot over the counter at the pharmacy and ask your house physician to inject you with it. I wasn’t sure when I had my last polio and tetanus shot, so the doctor advised me to get it but apparently in a smaller dosis. These vaccines are all good and well but they don’t come cheap. This whole ordeal costed me about €360 (about $505 USD). Heck, it’s for the greater good so I’m not going to complain about it, but just be prepared to dish out some cash when getting your vaccines.