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.
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.