We decided to be responsible adults, and responsible adventurers, and get all of the necessary vaccinations for all the countries we are planning on entering. It felt a little overwhelming at first, but with the help of nurses at our local GP, and a nurse at the local Superdrug travel clinic, we've got them all planned and sorted.
The necessary travel vaccines for us were:
Tick borne encephalitis
It would have been a hell of a lot better for our bank balance if we weren't responsible adults to get the rest. And we've read of certain others who didn't bother... naughty!
Hikers and dog walkers will know the risk of ticks in the UK though none of those here will give you encephalitis or meningitis. The UK beasties can possibly give you Lyme disease, a nasty illness. If you didn't know about the risk of ticks in the UK - seriously look it up if you plan to go walking in the countryside.
Tick borne encephalitis is a virus present in eastern Europe across to eastern Russia/north eastern China, as shown in the image (credit: ScienceDirect).
SO. Worth the £150 (private prescription) paid for a three dose course of vaccinations. They need to be spaced from 0/1 month/3 months so plan this one well ahead of your travels.
Encephalitis is rare but the death rate of Japanese Encephalitis is around 30%. There have been 62 documented cases of Japanese Encephalitis related to travel in the last 40 years so it is very rare. But, as that website very accurately states, rare doesn't mean never and the symptoms are similar to tick borne encephalitis. It's the mosquitoes which carry the virus so all the usual protections again mozzies is best in addition to the vaccine. The cost of the vaccine (two doses) was £178 total. The two doses are spaced one week apart.
Some people have wondered why we've spent money on getting a rabies vaccine when we're not going to India - the highest incidence of rabies in the world. However, we know we're going to be going through countries where feral dogs are common (Turkey, China, Vietnam etc) so we'd rather not take the risk. Helen is scared of dogs if they're running towards her and she doesn't know him/her so even before the issue of rabies comes into play, it's still a bit worrying for her. Anyway, the rabies vaccine is in short supply so plan ahead with this one in case your clinic needs a while to source it. Total cost on private prescription (3 doses) was £114. Total cost via private clinic was £165. The three doses are spaced 0/7 days/28 days.
Just look at that map. Of course we're going to get a typhoid vaccine. Duh.
Since these are quite vague symptoms, we'd rather not worry about whether it's typhoid or dehydration, thanks. Cost at private clinic was £30 for a single injection.
Hepatitis A and B
It's possible to have you Hepatitis A vaccine combined with others, to save time and perhaps money.
Helen has hers combined with typhoid since she was up to date on her Hep B.
It's not routinely given the UK since there is minimal risk, but worldwide 21 million people suffer from Hepatitis A every year (according to WHO).
Which moves onto:
Let's not have that.
Hepatitis B seems to be much wider spread. It's recommended that new born babies have this vaccine very soon after birth but boosters are needed as you grow older if you travel. As previously said, Helen was up to date because of working in the medical industry, but Mike needed this. The symptoms are similar to Hep A but they're different viruses and Hep A doesn't become chronic. All of the hepatitis viruses effect the liver in different ways and you don't want any of them.
DTaP and BCG
Hopefully everyone got this as a child. Being responsible adults, our parents weren't anti-vaxxers (was that even a thing in the 80s?).
This image from The Lancet shows we'll only need our anti-malarial tablets for a short time in South East Asia and China. I say short time, that's still a couple of months. We have a mosquito net and mozzie spray, but since the symptoms are:
There are so many different anti-malarial tablets available all at different costs and side effects. It's really worth doing your research in this and try one or two when you're at home to check you don't get side effects (e.g. sun rash, acid reflux) before you go away.
Where to get the vaccines?
Your GP might provide travel clinics and might provide private prescriptions for some vaccines. This means you'll pay an admin cost for the prescription to be made and signed by a doctor and then you'll pay for the vaccine at the pharmacy. Your GP also may require you to pay for a private appointment with a nurse to get this administered, but that's very variable between GP surgeries.
Some GPs will provide very few options for elective vaccinations, which is fair enough because they're elective and some GPs are so strained that they need to focus on ill patients, not necessarily those who are gallivanting across the globe.
If your GP doesn't give you the option for private prescription for what you need, a private clinic is your other option. These are companies specifically set up to provide vaccinations for travellers and they all vary on price. We went to Superdrug since they were the cheapest and they do give a wide range of services but we can't advise you where to go because it really depends on where in the UK you are.
We opted to get all of our required vaccinations because
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