We’ve had the oh so pleasant experience of our first batch of travel vaccinations and it’s been ever so slightly stressful, to say the least.
There is so much information available online, both pro and anti vaccines. Once you start googling and enter the scroll hole you’ll come away with a massive headache, no wiser about vaccinations, with only this little nugget of information whirring around your brain as you try to sleep; vaccinate and you’ll get sick and die, or don’t and get sick and die.
My advise to anyone is not to read travel forums at 3am and instead, make an appointment at your local travel clinic to seek appropriate advice from a trained medical professional. You’ll leave with a clear head and enough information to make your own informed choices.
*DISCLAIMER: I’m going to talk about the decisions made regarding our travel vaccinations, we’re not after a debate on vaccinations, people are free to make their own choices.*
I adore the NHS, and feel incredibly lucky to be able to access it. But, getting an appointment can be tricky, especially for a niche such as seeing a travel specialist. We popped our request in 2 months before we needed our first vaccination to give us plenty of time to get an appointment.
We had our appointment and were told we needed:
- Japanese Encephalitis
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
YIKES! That seemed like a lot, my headache was starting to reappear. But, again, because we are so fortunate in the UK to have access to a vaccination programme the children were up to date on their childhood immunisations and therefore only needed Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid, Rabies and Japanese Encephalitis. William & I needed a Tetanus booster, Hepatitis A & B, Typhoid, Rabies and Japanese Encephalitis. (Plus I needed my second MMR because apparently I’m not immune.)
I know I keep banging on about the NHS and singing it’s praises, but I’m gonna keep on doing it anyway. We were able to receive all of these vaccinations on the NHS, for free, except Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis and Hepatitis B for William and I, which I’ll talk more about in a moment. Being able to get these free, saved us a lot of time, stress and worry, we are so very lucky.
Now for the super stressful bit. Travel vaccinations that aren’t free on the NHS. For us that’s Rabies, Japanese Encephalitis and Hepatitis B for adults (the children received Hepatitis A&B as a combined vaccination on the NHS).
We had the option of paying for our local GP surgery to administer these for us, but the price they quoted was almost double that of our local private travel clinic, so we went there instead.
After completing our own research, discussing with the travel nurse and each other, we decided to just get the Rabies vaccination and skip the Japanese Encephalitis one, for now. Our reasoning for this is that our second stop is a month long trip around India. As parents we don’t want to run the risk of the children being bitten by the many wild animals and stray dogs that we will inevitably encounter, increasing the chance of contracting rabies. We would never forgive ourselves if something happened that we could have prevented.
A rabies vaccination is administered via 3 injections over 21 days. It has cost us just over £700 for a family of four.
The vaccination for Japanese Encephalitis comes close to £900 for us as a family of four. In our first few stops in Dubai, India and Sri Lanka, we have a very low risk of contracting it. South East Asia seems to be where there is a higher possibility of coming into contact with the mosquitos who carry this particular nasty. So that’s what made our decision easy.
We’ve going to find a travel clinic on our travels (we’ve already found one in Kuala Lumpur that will cost us a fraction of the price) that we can pop in to have our vaccination. Likewise, for the Hepatitis boosters that we’ll need in 6 months time.
Our experience when getting the injections has been fine. Slightly uncomfortable, our arms felt achy and strange after the Hepatitis ones, but this disappeared after a day or two.
I’d like to give a special mention to the staff at all of the clinics who dealt so brilliantly with Ava. She has a massive phobia of needles, she managed her first batch brilliantly. But the second lot was a struggle for her. She screamed lots, and we ended up having to hold her very tightly which was heartbreaking. The lovely nurse administered the injections quickly and painlessly. Afterwards the receptionists fetched her a lolly and spoke to her with empathy which helped calm her down. It really did make a difference and we are forever grateful to all healthcare workers, they are actual diamonds!
My advice to anyone wanting to travel is do your own research to decide what is best for you, and make sure you include money for vaccinations in your budget plans so the extortionate prices don’t catch you off guard.
For us, we don’t want to kick ourselves later if one of us falls ill and we could have prevented it via a vaccine. In all honesty if we weren’t parents I don’t think we’d have bothered with the extra vaccines such as Rabies and Japanese Encephalitis. Alas, we are parents, we cannot risk the health of ourselves or our children, which ultimately makes the cost worth it for the peace of mind alone.