Which vaccinations are really necessary for backpacking?

I find it weird that when people talk about travelling no one ever mentions a fear of needles. I say this because if you aren’t willing to be poked multiple times then you are seriously limiting your travel options. People who don’t like needles tend to be like people who don’t like dentists, by which I mean quite vocal about the dread. So I would have thought that at some point in my life I would have heard people complain about not being able to go to exciting places because they are scared of needles. Mind you maybe they are just braver than me, and happy to travel facing the many dangers that there are to be found in tropical air, water and bugs.

629px-Escape-from-Killer-Bees-Step-5-Version-2 (courtesy of WikiHow.com)

This post has effectively come about because of my frustration over my seemingly endless vaccination schedule. I had thought I was done this Saturday, and now have possibly yet one more hanging over me.

Now I’m actually not someone with a fear of needles, just a horror at the unforeseen and mounting costs involved. So here is the list so far:

Hep A, Typhoid, Rabies, Yellow fever.

Hep A and Typhoid were available on NHS (although there’s a nationwide typhoid shortage, so for a while I couldn’t get hold of any) and free. Rabies, my doctor could provide, but at a total cost of £120 – all the prices are listed per injection, which makes finding out that a course of three is mandatory very vexing. Yellow fever was only an option if I went to a private travel clinic, but then was only £55 which felt like a relative bargain.

I have an inherent distrust of private travel clinics in the UK, and I suppose anywhere, which may be ignorant but I am always worried that the information I receive won’t be so much in my best interests a the clinics. So when the travel nurse at Nomads informed me I should get Hep B, when the GP had said it wasn’t required, I didn’t jump at the chance to have another spike jabbed in my arm. I’m still thinking about it. GP said travelling with a boyfriend it wasn’t a problem, but travel clinic lady said that it’s an issue from unsterile equipment. Apparently my options are to get Hep B at another £90, carry a sterile needle kit at all times to thrust in the face of a presumably startled and well meaning medical professional when I do hurt myself, or attempt to never ever need medical assistance.

So I have successfully ruled out cholera (although shall need it before Africa-again according to travel clinic lady- internet says only if going to refugee camps), and both types of encephalitis (from a practical point, they don’t last long enough for us to get to Asia). Otherwise egg and I want everything (actually he has got cholera, but he’ a worrier)- obviously on top of the ones I’ve mentioned are the standard uk vaccs, polio, tb etc. but we were both up to date with these. Just as well, because I already feel like the voodoo doll of a particularly malicious jilted woman.

Maybe getting Hep B now is better than trying to counter balance my natural clumsiness the whole time we are away, or liver failure.

Now anti-malarials, there’s a whole other kettle of fish…

Listening to – my housemate’s excitement at his first corset fitting (no, that is not a band!)

Location – sofa again


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