The Do's and Don'ts of International Immunizations

Caitie Goddard in Uganda:

The Do's and Don'ts of International Immunizations

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?"
(me) Uganda
(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. :)