Travel Health: the first phase of vaccinations

[MONTRÉAL] Today, I had my first set of vaccinations. Initially, I planned on making an appointment with the McGill Centre for Tropical Diseases, but I couldn’t wait the 3-4 weeks waiting time. I went to the Santé Voyage Clinic at Montréal’s Hôpital St-Luc, which has a walk-in travel health clinic. I waited about two hours before seeing the nurse.

She was very helpful, detailing the various illnesses prevalent in Sudan and East Africa that I already listed in a previous post. Now I have a vaccination schedule that started during my visit, which started with five needles and a set of pills. It started with a 0.5mL vaccination of Hepatitis A ($58 each injection)  in my left arm. My second and last shot is next week. 1mL of the Hepatitis B vaccination ($34 each injection) was injected into the upper part of my right arm. I need to get a second dose in one month right before I leave and a third a few months after my return; or if I leave earlier than one month from now, I need to get a three doses before I leave every week.

I was then given a Tuberculin Skin Test ($5 each time) that consists of having a 0.1mL injection just under the skin of my left forearm, creating a small bump (see photo of red spot circled in ink. The bump injection had been absorbed). Next week, I get a second shot. this is to provide a sample of the level of TB in my system before I leave. Three months after returning to Montréal, I need to do it again to see if I was exposed to TB while in Sudan.

That was it for my arms. the nurse then asked me to pull down my pants (which I obliged) to give me my last two shots: a Polio vaccine (free) in my left thigh that offers protection for life, followed by the Tetanus/Diptheria (free) combined vaccinatio in my right thigh, which is covers me for 10 years.

I came home with a packet of 4 pills as a oral vaccination against Typhoid Fever ($46). These I need to take in the morning one hour before eating, with water, every second day. I will be good for 7 years.

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The nurse offered my a vaccination against Rabies. It was very expensive ($350) and due to my impending departure date, I was not able to take it in time, stictly due to the rabies vaccine shortage. Because of the shortage, vaccination methods have changed. Rather than get a vaccination of 1mL, the clinic offered three small doses of 0.1mL, I think once a week, followed by a blood test two weeks after the third injection to verify if the vaccination worked. The blood test results, I was told, would take two months to be sent to me, so even if I was bitten by a rabid animal, I would still have to be treated as if I hadn’t received any vaccination therapy. Decidedly, I said no to the expensive vaccine. I’ll avoid the petting zoo.

I then had a short visit with a doctor who told me about the malaria options. He seemd very confidant about prescribing me whichever Malaria pills I chose, based on the options for Sudan. He recommended Mefloquine (($20/month) to be taken once a week, Doxycycline, (once a day – $30/month), or or Primaquine (also once a day – $35/month). There was another option for Atovaquone/Proguanil, but it is very expensive ($160/month). I decided to wait and do more research before deciding, IF I want to take malaria pills and if so, which ones.

Next week, I have my second of three appointments to get my Yellow Fever and Meningitis Vaccinations and continue with above.

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2 Responses

  1. Pinoy says:

    I definitely love reading your insight and learning from your blogsite. That was totally a lot of injections LOLZ. I only got the H1N1 shot and seasonal flu shot. I will have to get vaccines for those too. Thank you for the interesting and informative article. – Pinoy

  2. rory says:

    What did he say about the potential side-effects of Larium? It would be interesting to know what percentage of people actually get side-effects. In my experience (albeit relatively small sample size – say around 100 or so), I’d say that at least 1/2 the people that I know who took it have had some kind of negative symptoms – maybe 20% or so have had bad enough symptoms to make them choose not to take it (nightmares, paranoia and the like), and only a couple who have had really serious reactions (i.e., requiring hospitalization). It would be tempting to try to start a round while you’re still in Canada (and close to medical options) to see if you have any reaction, except that the symptoms seem to get worse over time for many (opposite for me), and you really only want to be on them for as short as possible.

    On a related note, don’t forget to pack some oral rehydration salts – handy to have some on you when in remote areas in case there is a need….

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