Travelling to Africa, First Time? Time to be a Pincushion!

All the countries I have traveled so far are European. I have also traveled to Dubai and Pakistan and I never had to think about vaccinations. Well for Pakistan may be i should have but hey its my home country, so you know I was chilled. When i was planning my trip to Africa few months back though, I did have some idea in the back of my mind that I need to get vaccinated against some diseases. What i didn’t know at that time that its going to become one of the most important part of planning this trip. I booked an appointment at my GP six weeks before the trip thinking its enough time to get a couple of jabs. I was wrong. That 15 minutes appointment turned into an hour. You must be wondering what the hell!. Well it turns out that I needed vaccine against the following lot

  • Meningitis
  • Typhoid
  • Hep A
  • Hep B
  • Tetanus
  • Polio
  • Diphtheria
  • Cholera
  • Yellow Fever
  • Rabies
  • Measles

pincushion

You must be wondering why do I need all these? Didn’t i have them when I was young? No i didn’t, well i did, but since I was born in Karachi and I didn’t have any record of my childhood vaccines here in UK , I wanted to get all of them. I did actually got some record from my father about my childhood vaccines. God bless him, you can find records of everything somewhere in a file in his cupboard.

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That’s my father and my youngest brother, Crazy haan! 🙂 … selfie-ing while enjoying football worldcup final on tv back home in July, while I was in Croatia with my other half in a hostel for UltraEurope

IMG_9298

Anyway back to vaccinations. My father emailed me a scan copy next day, but unfortunately either some of them were expired or needed a booster, and I also thought because they are free why not just get them all :). Me and the nurse spent an hour figuring out the schedule what vaccine to do when, as some of them required more than one jabs, some can’t be taken at the same time and some have to be taken at certain intervals. It was kind of panicking situation, for me atleast. Firstly I was trying to fit in all the vaccines within a period of 6 weeks as I didn’t want to go to Africa missing any of these, especially with the Ebola thing going on recently. Secondly I had the impression that all the vaccinations will be free of charge, covered by NHS.. Right? Well it turns out I was wrong there too. Ok most of them were free but Rabies 3 injections £50 each, there you go £150. Yellow Fever £70, Meningitis £60, my GP even wanted to charge me for Cholera and Hep B, and on top of that Antimalarial…oh my god it was a nightmare, all the budget that I have been planning all these months, just 6 weeks before the trip I could already see dwindling in front of my eyes!…Africa, the land of amazing wild life and contrast, in that time, was the land of diseases for me 🙂 Anyway somehow we manage to schedule and tomorrow will be my last day for a couple of more jabs and then I will be on my way, all super immune like an Africa Tarzan 🙂

The point I am making here is to make travel vaccination an important part of your trip planning. Even if you are going to a place where you think there is no need of vaccine, just make sure you check through an authentic source. It will affect your budget and  will require time and planning.

FitForTravel is the site where you can find details of what vaccines are required for what destination. The recommended vaccines here are obviously the ones given in UK as it’s a UK-based website. If you are UK-based, always check on NHS website what vaccines are free. My GP was charging for Cholera and Hep B, but after showing her the website and some debate, she got convinced and I got them for free. She was looking to charge me £80 for Cholera and £105 for Hep B (3x jabs). I mentioned about giving time and planning because there are vaccines like Yellow Fever that has to be taken at least 10 days before entering some countries e.g. Kenya. For vaccines that are not free at NHS, shop around, don’t just believe that your GP is the cheapest option e.g. look for the prices at SuperDrugs, Boots etc. NomadTravel has good prices.

Obviously you can travel without getting vaccinated, and you might think you can get vaccines once you are there but remember it’s for your own safety, why take a risk and there are some countries where you can’t even enter without certain vaccines e.g. Kenya, where they require proof of yellow fever vaccine at the immigration.

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