Shots to the Arms

Before kicking off our travels we needed to obtain vaccines to protect against specific deceases contracted in the countries we plan to visit. So we began the process by researching travel vaccines and then digging into our baby books for immunization records. Thanks to our parents for keeping detailed records of our immunizations (along with plenty of baby details like our first word, our favorite toy, and a play by play of our growth). They had us immunized for our standard shots (MMR, DTP, Polio) which meant we only needed the vaccines the CDC recommends for travelers in the countries, and specific areas of the countries we are planning to visit.

So, with these countries in mind: Argentina, Chile, Peru, Costa Rica, Nepal, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand (Europe, Canada don’t really require anything) we worked with our doctors, both at Legacy and using the travel doctor through Safeway Pharmacy, to get recommended vaccines; here’s the list:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Typhoid Fever
  • Rabies
  • Malaria
  • Yellow Fever
  • Japanese Encephalitis

We setup an appointment with the local Safeway Travel Clinic and went in on November 1st to get vaccinated (3 months prior to departure). The Tavel Doc was very helpful by talking to us about the process and consulting with us about the rabies vaccine. Rabies is a three time shot, very expensive, and it was at the ‘recommended’ level per our travel destinations. With all of that info, we decided against getting the rabies vaccine; so we’ll plan to stay out of uncharted jungles and bat ridden caves the best we can!

Once we settled on the vaccines the doc was going to administer we went to the shot room (aka a simple, clean doctors room with nothing but hand sanitizer on the wall, some seats and a wall of locked cabinets). We rolled up our sleeves and our doctor went to work. In all, we received 9 total shots (all of the above except Rabies and Typhoid (see below)), plus Will received a tetanus booster. We were extremely lucky and shocked to find out that our insurance (Regence BCBS) covered all the shots!

ouchAfter are arms were battered from shot after shot (both arms in the triceps and deltoids), we were told we had to stay in the waiting room for an hour because occasionally there are reactions to the yellow fever vaccine. At that point we looked at each other in surprise because we were really hungry and we were in a grocery store! So with growling stomachs we sat and waited, counting the minutes, playing Words With Friends, and discussing what we were going to eat for lunch.
We finally got out of there, our arms weak from being poked, and headed for some food.

BUT we weren’t out of the clear yet. Next came the Typhoid vaccine: a shot or a series of pills. We opted for the pills because you’re covered for 5 years as opposed a few years with the shot and the cost is no different. The only downside with the pills is that there are 4 pills that need to be taken 2 days apart with a glass of water, on an empty stomach and you can’t eat for an hour after taking them. We took the pills at 4:30am so Jenny could go back to sleep and Will often choose to stay up to get some work done. Turns out we forgot about taking our last pill early on a Saturday morning, which meant after waking up around 8:30, we had to take the pill and then couldn’t eat or drink for an hour, which was another long hour of trying not to think about food!
Science Note: In case you’re interested, the reason you can’t eat (or drink anything warm) is that the pills that contain the ‘live’ vaccine need to be absorbed within an hour because if not your stomach acid will kill the vaccine, and if you drink hot water, you’ll kill them too. So, empty stomach for an hour is protocol.

At this point are vaccines are all set except as we just went in for our second dose of the Japanese Encephalitis shot (it takes two). We also picked up some other prescribed meds for altitude sickness, travelers diarrhea, and malaria. Fingers crossed we won’t need to use any of them, but better safe than sorry!
Although our vaccination process was simple, inexpensive and only slightly painful we (and our upper arms) are thankful we won’t need to do it again!

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