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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Family Trip to Health Clinic for Yellow Fever and Typhoid Vaccination Costs + Advice

We received a call from a worker at a health clinic that Val had befriended. The clinic had just gotten in a batch of Yellow Fever vaccinations and that we had better get there soon. First thing the next morning, we were all on our way, the entire clan. The clinic opened at 8:15, and we were there at 8:10.

Lesson 1: The quantities of the Yellow Fever vaccinations are very limited. First dips always goes to the military, and then the rest is dolled out to clinics in a region. Make friends with someone at the clinic so they will call you when doses arrive.

As the first people in the vaccinations portion of the clinic, we thought it would be fairly quick event. Alas, it wasn't. We proceeded to wait for 1 hour before being called back! Yes, 1 full hour and we were not only the first, but the only people there!!!!

Lesson 2: Be ready to wait a long time .... even if you are the first and only people there.

When we finally made it back, we met with the travel nurse. We shared with her that we were in to get some Yellow Fever vaccinations. She proceeded to ask us a serious of questions. The first one, "Where are you going?" Ah, that was easy, "We are going around the world." She gave a queer look. "I need a specific place please." I knew this was going to be an experience, but I wasn't ready for how mechanical it was going to be.

I looked at the world map on the wall and started reading off all the countries along the coast of Central and South America. The nurse dutifully typed them all in. With each one, she would pull back out sheets of information. At about country 5, I finally let the futility of the situation carry the next step. I said, "Look, we are just going to Brazil ... let's just do that one please." "Where in Brazil?" Ugh. So I looked at a map and named a city. "You don't need Yellow Fever for that one." Ugh. "Well, that is just our starting point, we plan on venturing deep into the Amazon river, and spend months and months there." "ohh, well then you definitely need Yellow Fever", she stated, "and you should get Typoid" (BONUS! We wanted that too, but were very focused on the limited quantity of the Yellow Fever vaccination).

Lesson 3: Find a specific place that requires you to have the shots you need, and simply go in with that on your agenda. Don't list every place.

Then she asked, "When are you leaving and when are you getting back?" At this point, I just made up dates. She was going by her script, and she was going to be very through (just as one would want a health care professional).

Val paid the fees: $110 per Yellow Fever shot, $60 per Typhoid shot, and $100 for the entire family consultation giving a grand total of $780.

I went first. KJ held my hand to comfort me watching everything close up. Next up was Val, KJ holding hands again. Then KJ. I had to hold her very still, and KJ braved the shots like a trooper. Next up Dy, she too did great. Sure, there were tears, but it was all good.

2 hours 30 minutes later, we were all done. The reality of the trip was made physical as all our arms were sore the entire day!

Oh, once we were done, there was only 1 Yellow Fever vaccination left for someone else and the clinic manager told us that another shipment wasn't due for 30 days.


  1. Looks like another justification for some ice cream. :)
    I liked how you referred to the nurse's attitude as being "thorough."
    It reads to me like another instance where people stop caring about what they are doing and instead are focused on following the script the lawyers and insurance companies have forced them into.

  2. @Joe: :) Yeah, the Freudian slip ("through" versus "thorough") conveys the sentiment. Without getting too much into the government health care debate, since this was a public health clinic (and their travel department), I wondered how much of this was driven by government bureaucracy. My experience, when traveling for work and going to a private doctors office for travel shots, was very very different.

  3. Don't get me wrong. I love reading yours and Vals positive take on things. I know sailing away from shore won't rid me of all my imperfections, but I'm hoping it will wash away at least some of my cynicism. :)

    (I have been a witness to different types of health care across the USA as well. I know it can be much better in some places. Shout out to some of my friends up north in Minnesota. One of the best places to ever need emergency room service. :) Just too bad you have to go through some lakes or rivers to get there by boat.)

  4. Thanks for this very helpful post! My husband and I were actually going through the CDC's website this evening looking at all the required vaccinations needed for a circumnavigation country by country. You gave us some great trips for when we do head in to start the vaccination process!

    Many thanks! Charlotte @ http://rebelheart.squarespace.com/

  5. @Joe: No worries! Your observation was right on and dead on. As an aside, I don't believe in a "perfect state", so the level of cynicism anyone has is just right for their situation. Cynicism ebbs, flows, engulfs, and dissolves all depending on the conditions. On a boat, I too suspect cynicism dissipates dramatically. :)

    @Red Charlotte: You are most welcome! Val and I are very happy that the information is of value. When we talked about this post, I asked Val what information regarding vaccines/immunizations was hard to find on the internet. Her responses formed the basis of the post. By the way, it looks like you and Eric continue your transformation hard core! Really Really Cool!! See you on the water. :)


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