Here is a an interesting travel medicine post regarding vaccinations taken by a US scientist traveling to Tanzania. Many Indians appear skeptical about the need for these vaccinations, but most Westerners take it quite seriously. I always urge all travelers coming to me to not only complete the recommended vaccinations, but consider taking Malaria prophylaxis, since this a serious life-threatening illness, and there is currently no vaccination available for the same.
I think it is a good time to give you an idea of what all went into getting here. I wish science happened as quickly and smooothly and seemingly effortlessly as it does on those cable television programs. But it doesn’t. It’s a roller coaster filled with ups adn downs, and moments of exhiliaration and swearing and kicking over trash cans. The planning and preparation for this journey was an adventure (in paperwork and beauracracy).
And I asked you all to feel comfortable to ask questions about what I am doing and experiencing someone did, right off of the back.
How many shots did you have to get?
Answer: Lots. I actually lost count.
I knew I was coming to Tanzania some time this summer, so I planned a visit to the Travel Immunization Nurse as early as March. Having visited a tropical region before (Guyana, Souther America), I knew I would have to take a series of shots before arriving in June – my original arrival date.
Plus, my Yellow Fever vaccination was set to expire in April and I didn’t want to have to get a new card to carry along with my old card with my full vaccination history.
But the Travel Nurse asked me several questions about where I was going, the type of living conditions and my reseason for travel. She then visited a website, Tropimed, which provides a list of recommended boosters.
Immunizations I got to visit Tanzania:
Hepatitis A – this is a two shot series. Most people have had these shots. I only had the first one so I needed the booster. Now I’m protected for life. (1)
Hepatitis B – recommended but not required. I got it. Most people have had a Hepatitis B vaccination as a child, but I couldn’t find my childhood vaccination records so I got it anyway. (2)
Measles, Mumps, Rubella – also known as MMR – I had to get a booster. (3)
Typhoid Fever (4)
Tetanus, Polio, Diptheria – also known as DTP, I had taken it when I started working for the university. It was also required for me to work with the rats. (5)
Rabies – recommended for travelers spending time outdoors hiking, camping and etc. zit is a three partwhich took when I started working at the university, for same reasons as listed above. (6 ,7,
Yellow Fever – it is only recommended for travel to Tanzania, but I got it anyay, as I explained earlier. Plus, I’m only here for a limited time, I can’t risk getting sick and not being productive… and dying. Yellow Fever is no punk. (9)
Some of the shots can be given together but others, like the Yellow Fever, Rabies series and the Hepatitis B shots, you have to time your shots just right. For example, Yellow Fever vaccination isn’t valid until 10 days after the shot. So you’re fully protected right away. The Rabies shots are given 1 week, then 2weeks apart from each other. And other shots shouldn’t be given at the same time. Especially Hepatitis B. It is a live vaccine and you can’t get any other vaccine (of any type) for 3o days later.
And, I still had to get my anti malarial medicine. This isn’t a shot but it a prophylaxis (preventative) pill that you must take before duing and after visiting an area with great malaria risk. There are many options, but it depends on what other shots/medications you are taking and the drug-resistance in the area you visit. My options were a) Malarone a daily pill or b) Mefloquine a weekly pill. Cost does add up but the side effects are worth considering, too. I decided on the Mefloquine, evethough the last time I took it the psychotropic side effects had me tweeking for almost 2 years. So far I haven’t had any major dreams or distortions, which is saying a lot.
It’s a lot to manage and juggle. And my vaccinations were only one of the pre-trip logistics I had to handle before embarking on this journey.”