Question About Vaccinations
I've already gotten all of the necessary shots that I need except for Rabies and Japanese Encephalitis. Now I'm sure this has come up before and I'll be sure to dig through the older threads but I'm sure the answers I would have gotten may have changed some than what I may find in older posts.
The two vaccinations I listed above are insanely expensive (which I'm sure many of you already knew). $480 and $540 to be exact at the place I'm doing most of my immunizations. That is an extra $1k i'm going to have to shell if they end up being necessary. The Asian countries I plan on possibly travelling through are Japan, SK, Thailand and Cambodia (as far as the Jap. E. goes). I've seen it shows up more in rural farm areas. As far as rabies, I plan on doing a lot of hiking and outdoors stuff. There may be points where I hold animals at tame animal facilities but definitely don't plan on chasing too many wild dogs around. Will be moving through all continents but Antarctica at some point during my trip (this is for rabies reference like I gave for Jap E. countries I plan to visit - I can give you exacts if you need).
This is just basic I know so if I can give more information let me know. I realize health is key and should be first priority, but still if these are vaccinations that I can do without that is $1k I can use towards travel instead!
So I guess what I'm asking in part is under what conditions in your experience or knowledge are these two necessary?? Does anyone know of any spots I can read about these two that is pretty recent (other than the CDC)?
Also I've seen some older posts where others have said that many of these vaccinations are actually cheaper overseas. Anyone know this to be true recently and if it is safe?
Rabies? I had the same lecture.
I told them this:
If I ever get bitten by a dog, I'll run to the doctor, thank you....
It will be cheaper than the vaccine.
I've never been bitten by any dog while travelling. Just don't pet the pooches and you should be fine.
Thats just me and my 'common' sense talking, of course. it's up to you to assess the risk for yourself.
Curious to say what the others have to say. Thanks for the feedback man.
When I arrived in Thailand, I met an American fellow who was just starting his RTW, and he got his Rabies vaccine in Bangkok for a total price of $60 USD, for the 3 shots, and doctor visits. He also got the JE shots for about $20 USD.
I wish I had done more research into vaccines from other countries prior to my trip; would have saved me $1K CAD. A costly lesson, but I still wanted and received the vaccines.
Now about not chasing dogs. Common sense. Only thing is the dogs in Kampot, Cambodia have not read the maual and THEY may chase YOU!!! It's true. I have experienced it. The whole time, I was thinking "thank goodness I had those rabies shots"!
On the other hand, Phnom Penh is the one place we needed to use medical facilities and we were VERY impressed with the standard of care. And should anything have happened in Kampot, we could easily have got to PP within 24 hours. It was being stuck in Mongolia that we made preparations for- and the dogs there were pretty scungy-looking too!
Would you consider getting rabies shots in Bangkok? (if you're going there) I've heard there's a cheap medical centre there...someone else got details?
(Also, note we were travelling with young children - maybe we would not have bothered for adult-sized bodies who will not succumb to rabies as quickly as little ones!)
I do have a friend who recently got bit by a dog in Tibet. It came and attacked him. He was able to source the first shot in Tibet and then had to leave Tibet to get the second shot, etc. It all worked out in the end but it made for a rather hectic day or two.
In Guatemala, I find it helped to carry a large stick in some areas(when I went there) and when in doubt, pretend to reach down to get a stone, or get a stone. Puppies are routinely stoned there, so they tend to shy from the very action.
Still, rabies shots WOULD be a better solution if the dog didn't kill you first
You're quite right about carrying a stick! I didn't have one on me in Cambodia, but having heard that if you raise an object above your head as if to throw it at the offending dog, that he will back down. I had nothing to lose, and carrying nothing other than our good camera, lifted it up in the air - and was almost prepared to throw it if need be! It worked. Dogs backed off, foaming at the mouth, and I made a hasty retreat.
In 7 months around SEA, never got JE. I initially decided against it because of the expense, and because the doctor said I'd only need it if I was visiting rural areas with pig farms. I laughed at the idea. Then 3 months later I was motorbiking through Vietnam and Laos, and staying in guest houses right next door to, you guessed it. Actual pig farms. Still no JE though.
With rabies, it buys you time. So if you're not visiting somewhere remote, far from hospitals, you probably won't benefit that much from it. Even in Indonesia, where they have big scary posters of rabid dobermans warning of rabies, I never had a problem.
If you do get bit, you'll still have to be rushed to a hospital for a big, painful, follow-up shot.
If I could do it again, I'd just fly into Chiang Mai (I don't really like BKK), chill out for a week, and get all my vaccinations there. Hell, if you need some dental work done, both are known for their medical tourism. Why not get the whole package?
There's a few major reasons I found that both of these shots (and others) are more expensive in the USA. The first is that, hey, they CAN charge more. A second is that things like JE that are endemic in certain areas have the vaccines subsidized by the government. Most folks in urban areas in those countries are probably inoculated as children.
The third, and most depressing reason is that certain vaccine types are under patent by American companies. JE is a good example. There's a more effective, safer, and lower dose (fewer shots) alternative made by a Chinese company that hasn't been approved for use in the U.S. yet, but pretty much everywhere that actually suffers from JE has approved it and uses it. It's much, much cheaper. This is the shot you'll get if you get the vaccine in Bangkok, as opposed to the one derived from mouse brains that I think isn't made any more, and that they use in the USA. And, surprise surprise, IS under patent by an American, not Chinese, company.
It's nothing personal against your health. Just business. Save yourself $1,000, get them overseas if you're really worried, and travel on the savings.
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