I went to see my GP to talk travel vaccinations yesterday. I wish I hadn’t!
I came away with a sinking feeling, convinced we’re all going to be sick or even die, either from terrible tropical disease or from the toxic vaccinations themselves. I can also feel a big financial headache coming on, probably a migraine.
Nothing on this website is to be taken as medical advice, these posts simply document our thought processes and experiences, before travel, and during.
How Much Will All of the Travel Vaccinations Cost?
I was quoted $1000 /person for a full set of travel vaccinations, starting from scratch. EEEK!!!
That was for:
ADT Diptheria and Tetanus.
The Japanese Encephalitis and Rabies Vaccinations were the big ones, both costing around $300. We didn’t discuss Malaria Prophylaxis and Flu Vaccines.
How Many Travel Vaccinations are Really Necessary?
At the moment I just don’t know. I’m putting in a lot of research and trying to make this big decision for me, my husband and my children, it’s a lot of pressure.
The doctor doesn’t want to offer me his own advice, he just wants to tell me the risks and let me make up my own mind. That’s understandable I suppose, he could be held legally accountable.
At least he didn’t put the hard sell on me as so many specialist travel clinics do.
There are plenty of websites to help you make that call, these are two I’ve looked at recently.
Check out the Hepatitis A Map.
The Thailand Malaria Map. All other destinations are also on the NHS website.
It’s Cheaper to Get Travel Vaccinations in Thailand.
Medical care is much cheaper in Thailand and the standard is excellent. I know of many travelling families who opt to get their vaccinations in a clinic in Bangkok (allied to the dept of tropical medicine at the university and the tropical diseases hospital). The link takes you to their vaccination price list. ( I have no involvement with the clinic, this is not a sponsored post.)
We have opted to spend a few months in Malaysia before we head up to Bangkok, If I could rebook my tickets I would. I’m convinced that Malaysia is safe, but I’ve still got that niggling worry. What if I make the wrong call and my child gets sick, or worse?
So What am I Going to Do?
I don’t know yet, I have no answers. I can tell you that I have never had a rabies vaccination, nor have I thought them necessary.
I have read of children having run-ins with monkeys and street dogs, so yes, I am concerned.
Realistically, if we are within reach of a hospital I see no need for rabies vaccines. You still need post-bite therapy, even with the vaccine.
We drilled it into the kids to stay away from animals on previous trips, they were really good with that, but a litter of puppies in Bali was too much to resist.
We live with Dengue Fever here in Queensland, so we’re used to avoiding mosquito bites, we are very rarely bitten.
Presumably , if we can avoid Dengue carrying mosquitos, it shouldn’t be hard to avoid malarial ones. See our tips for avoiding mosquitos here.
My son has had giardia and a strain of salmonella, they weren’t too bad at all in either case, so we don’t worry too much about most tropical illnesses.
The locals, in whatever country you visit, do not take antimalarials.
Typhoid and Cholera vaccinations aren’t 100 % effective. I don’t know if it’s really worth getting them, I’m leaning towards typhoid.
Hepatitis A is not a serious illness in children, but is in adults, I’ll probably get that.
We have not had any travel vaccinations for Thailand or Bali, nor did we take antimalarials. If we were trekking up on the Burmese border I would consider taking them. A doctor actually told us not to bother with shots for short holidays in either country, but extended travel is different.
I have gone without malaria prophylaxis for 3 months in India, we were fine, but will I take that risk with the kids? It’s very, very, hard. If you have any suggestions or ideas, please drop them in the comments box below. Thank you!
Update on the Travel Vaccination Situation
We did get some vaccinations in Kuala Lumpur, tetanus and typhoid. In the end we never made it to the Bangkok Clinic. We have not taken any antimalarials, not even for India. In the UK I checked in with my GP, some of the above vaccinations were NOT RECOMMENDED by the NHS, even for India ( we were told at this GP practice). The only extra one I’ve had in the last 2 years of travel is a hepatitis booster because of my age. I’m not trying to sway your opinion, just put it out there that people make money out of these vaccinations and administering them, you should do your own research and do whatever you need to do to feel happy and safe.
Update 2018: These are very tough choices to make and I’m sorry I can’t be more help. In 6 years on the road, none of us has had anything very major, if that helps. We eventually did get the rabies shots, in 2018 and a whole bunch of boosters at that time too.
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Sunday 29th of December 2019
Hello, We are traveling as a family starting this coming summer 2020 for a year and plan to stay in Caribbean, the Americas, and possibly Europe. All stays will be relatively long term at anywhere from a few wks to several wks. Any recommendation on vaccines? We are from Canada but haven't given our children all of their normal vaccines at this time because we don't believe most are necessary or even ideal. Any suggestions or other links for our research would be helpful! Thank you and I appreciate the blog. Very helpful!
Alyson for World Travel Family
Sunday 29th of December 2019
I think for South America you need all of them, including Yellow Fever, check for each country as some countries will require it others not. Europe - nothing I don't think. Just the normal ones. I've heard of people getting Typhoid in the Americas too.
Tuesday 16th of October 2018
Alyson my wife and I are planning a trip to Hotel Everest View near Lukla Nepal in April 2019. I was wondering how you managed with respect to altitude sickness. I will be a fit 70 year old when we reach Lukla and have experienced altitude sickness at 11000 ft. Also I would like to hear what you thought of the flight to Lukla. Thanks Phil
Thursday 18th of October 2018
Hi Phil. I'm in Namche today, the Everest View Hotel is about 440m above us and we were up there last week on an acclimatisation hike. The hotel itself is modern and packed with hikers. I found it rather disappointing. Personally I'd stay in Namche. The view point above Namche gives Everest views if the skies are clear, or you can still walk up to the Everest View. Namche is 2 days walk from Lukla. The flight to Lukla from Kathmandu is very weather dependent. There were no Flights for 6 days 3 weeks ago and still not every flight is departing due to cloud. Factor that in, flight cancellations are common. We just went to Base Camp with a 73 year old, so I don't think age is an issue, just attitude and stamina. Altitude is unpredictable, you don't know who it will hit, ever, but we're still pretty low here. Get some diamox in Kathmandu and start taking it before you fly. It helps. Sorry for typos, I'm on my phone in the German Bakery in Namche. We walked from here to the Everest View in about 2 hours. I have photos and video coming once we're back in civilisation.
Sunday 21st of January 2018
Boy I’m so glad to come across your post about travel vaccinations. We are too having financial headaches for all the recommended vaccines. May I please ask why you did not end up taking the Japanese Enchepalitis vaccine?
Saturday 19th of September 2015
My kids had all the vaccines (JE and rabies included ) before we lived in Vietnam for a year. Last year we were in Bali for one week...on returning to our villa my 9 year old son announced "Mum, a dog bit me on the bum at the beach"...so my back was turned for 5 seconds and it had happened. I didn't know which dog it was and his skin was broken so there is a risk of rabies (read WHO guidelines, any bite or scratch that breaks the skin is a risk)...I felt really happy that he had been pre vaccinated as it involved a simple set of two vaccines readily available at the BIMC clinic. If he hadn't been vaccinated it would have meant returning to Australia for immunoglobulin, 5 shots and major hassles. The problem with kids is they may not report a 'minor' exposure because they have been told so many times 'don't go near the animals' so they're unwilling to tell. Pre vaccination gives a level of comfort and is safe...so it's $300...how much is your trip costing? And the vaccine lasts a lifetime. And rabies is fatal. My kids have traveled extensively - I have no doubt the travel bug will be part of their life, and now they are set for life. I'm not suggesting everyone going on a short trip to Bali should have the vaccine but any trip of more than a month in Asia it's worth thinking about...Yes I'm a doctor but first of all I'm a Mother who loves to travel with her kids and not have to spend too much time worrying. I also think it's a great idea to get the vaccines in Bangkok if you have the time - for example the new JE vaccine (Imojev) costs about $20-40 in Bangkok and ~$300 in Australia (preferential pricing by the vaccine companies not Drs and Pharmacies in Australia rooting the system) and rabies is about $25 a shot compared to $120, but you need 3 shots over 4 weeks (JE just a single shot so much easier to organise).
Thursday 16th of July 2015
I'm going to Miami (USA) tomorrow, but i want to know Miami and Key West climate at this time of year...... Anyone of yours know? ;) bye for today