What about vaccines? The nitty gritty.

Just now, my bubble almost burst.  I got off the phone with a local Travel Medicine entity and saw my savings disintegrate before my eyes.  All that scrimping and saving, the overtime, the delayed home repairs, the paying off the credit cards… for rabies shots???

But it’s not spent yet.  There are options. I could risk a horrible death for myself and my children from vaccine-preventable causes, we could cut large portions of the trip out, we could shorten the trip.  I need more information!

I read a lot of family RTW travel blogs and I scour them for hard facts.  Where do you stay?  How do you budget?  How do you deal with kid’s boredom/illness/homesickness?  What went wrong and how did you deal with it?  There are unlimited details of activities and beautiful pictures and maps and beaches/sunsets/ruins, but practical things are surprisingly undocumented.  If you are planning to do this for realz, you need facts.

We are starting out in southeast Asia.  The CDC recommends the Typhoid and Hep A vaccines for all travelers, and the rabies vaccine for kids.  Luckily, we all have our standard shots, which include Hep A.  Rabies, however is another story.  A budget-busting type of story.  The kind lady on the phone told me that for $55 per person we can see a Travel Doctor.  Then she told me the cost of the rabies vaccine.  “$280 per shot, and each person needs 3 shots,” she told me calmly as the digit counters rolled in my mind.  If you’re doing the math, that is $330 for us to just step in the door of the travel Medicine Doctor’s office.  Then, for rabies vaccines for 1 kid, that is $840, or $3360 for all 4 kids.  Typhoid shots are $120, and the grand total for the visit + 6 typhoid shots + 4 rabies shots…$4170!!!   That’s more than the cost for all 6 of us to fly from NYC to Thailand!!  Aughhhhh!!!

OK, now another option.  Apparently one can go to a travel medicine clinic in Bangkok where the shots are much less expensive.  In fact, rabies shots are $13 at the Thai Travel Clinic, and $11 will get you a Typhoid vaccine.  The Lonely Planet discussion board directed me there from their very useful posts on the subject.  Say what you will about voluntarily getting medical treatment in another country, but I will say in return that many Americans freely choose to go to Thailand for hip replacements and other non-urgent surgeries due to the much lower prices and excellent care.  I realize this says as much about the ridiculous healthcare system in the US as it does about the level of Thai facilities, but as for the latter, forty Bangkok health organizations have the same accreditation as the hospital we use here at home does.  I even looked into the types of rabies vaccine: Verorab and Rabipur in this article by the NIH are both approved by the WHO and are considered effective.  Stick that in your syringe, Travel Medicine lady.


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