The Do's and Don'ts of International Immunizations
The following is my experience getting immunized abroad. Basically, through my own errors as well as success, I learned some valuable lessons. Hopefully if you ever decide to travel to a malaria hotbed, you will be PREPARED! Here is my list of do's and don'ts.
Do: Get immunized. Duh. I didn't want to be too obvious but you neeever know.
Don't: Go through the Michigan vaccination clinics list and pick one that says "international" with that being your only qualifier.
Dont: Got continue with your appointment when the nurse whose job it is to give vaccinations specifically for African travel gives you a blank look when you state your chosen destinations name
True story; (attendant) "wow so yellow fever shot, where are you going?"
(attendant)...(pause)...oh, ok. hmm.
(slightly concerned me) yeah, it's a country in Africa.
(attendant, now much more enthusiastic) "Ooooh wow great! How cool, I'm so jealous!"
So that was sign #1. Sign #2 was probably when I had to explain and add up my own pills for malaria to the DOCTOR. Apparently, I really threw her off guard when I said I needed them now (May) even though I was leaving in August due to the fact I lived in Madrid. She proceeded to start the count from the day I left for Madrid to the day I return from Uganda. Sign #3? She still prescribed the wrong amount. (mom, remind me to get one more pill when I come home!) BUT...don't think I'm completely ridiculous-I had 2 days to get it done if I wanted to do it in the U.S! Moooving on...
Don't: Attempt to do any type of immunizing in Spain. At all. While in the U.S you pay more for a 2 second shot than a life coach and I admire Spain's no nonsense approach to last minute requests, the whole humanitarian/"uh this is kinda important" aspect hasn't settled in. I tried to schedule appointments for shots that are considered HIGHLY recommended (you know like meningitis, hepatitis, polio, nothing serious...) and the response? "Sorry, we are booked for 2 months." I guess I understand when their office hours are literally a whopping 5 hours a day, 4 days a week. I am the first one to tell people Spain does not follow the siesta rule like everyone thinks but apparently immunization clinics DO.
Do: Go to Dublin! One email and 24 hours later, I had an appointment, a personalized email confirming all costs and recommendations, and a "See you soon!" as a closer. Still a little dubious, I can now confirm that this was the best decision. The doctor had lived in Africa for 2 years and has been to Uganda several times. Not only did I get these shots for waaay cheaper than if I had gone in the U.S, I also got health safety brochures he actually wrote and publishes. The ultimate affirmation this clinic rocks? Free suckers. No need to ask.
Don't: Wait until the last minute. Duh.
Do: WAIT to write about it in your blog until after you have your situation worked out. I advise you to wait until you have secured your chances of survival from all water/food/animal borne diseases during your chosen experience. For me that meant waiting 2 weeks until 2 of my immunizations became 100% effective. :)