January 10, 2019

What people don’t talk about when they travel: TRAVEL VACCINATIONS

We’ve had many people ask us where we are going and how we decided on where. One of the influencing factors was disease risk and available vaccines (for us and for our 18 month old). There are a lot of travel vaccines available, but a lot are not approved for how young Stella is. We took that into consideration when we began planning.

My number one piece of advice is to visit a local travel clinic as early as possible. As soon as you know where you are going, or considering going, make an appointment and talk with a travel clinic doctor. Have a list of places you are going, and talk to them about the risks, what vaccines are available, and the cost.

This is my number one piece of advice because we did NOT do that. We waited, we kept putting it off. We knew it was going to be expensive, take a lot of time, and we’d have to dig up all of our vaccination records (which is not fun). While we were in Hawaii I finally made an appointment with a travel clinic and we started the process here.

Something we did do to get information beforehand was visit the CDC’s website. It is surprisingly easy to use with a lot of great information. You select where you are going and what travel group you are in. We looked up this for all of our planned destinations, and selected “traveling with children” as our travel group. I’d really recommend checking out this website. It breaks it down into what All, Most, and Some travelers should consider, along with helpful links.

But Google will only get you so far. We did a lot of research online before visiting the travel clinic. We also talked to Stella’s pediatrician to make sure she was on schedule with her routine vaccinations. We cross referenced all of these with Abe’s dad who is a family doctor. The only thing I regret is waiting so so so long to go to the travel clinic!

My suggestions for planning travel and vaccines are as follows:

  • Visit the CDC’s website
  • Go to a travel clinic!
  • Cross reference what you are finding with another doctor or your child’s pediatrician

Major takeaways from this process:

Vaccination records are annoying to dig up! Keep them in an easy to access location. We are going to be putting all of ours into a private Google Doc.

Vaccines can have different names or abbreviations. All you have to do is search it online. No need to get a vaccine you’ve already had because you didn’t recognize the name.

Vaccines are EXPENSIVE.

Researching vaccines and disease risk is important, but not fun. It seriously stressed me out for several days. Tears were shed. Sleep was lost. Trying to decide what to get/ what to not get. What was essential and what wasn’t. All of the “what ifs” running through my head. It can make you think it isn’t even worth it to travel at all. Being in the mindset of the world is terrible and I’m going to get some horrible disease.. Doesn’t make for a happy traveler. Make educated choices and feel confident in your choice. Now that we are through the decision making part and just finishing up a couple more shots, I feel secure and confident and excited to travel!

If you are curious, here is what we decided to do based on our needs:

RABIES (Stella) Rabies vaccine is recommended in Thailand and Bali for “some” travelers. Since Stella loves animals a ridiculous amount (I mean seriously she legit HUGGED a parrot yesterday, spent the better part of today trying to catch a pigeon, and screams every time she sees a dog). We decided to get this vaccine for her to put us at ease. She is young enough that she can’t communicate to us directly if something were to happen and Abe or I didn’t see it. Abe and I decided to not get rabies because if we were bitten we would be able to communicate that and get to a clinic quickly. This is an expensive vaccine and it is three doses.

Note about Rabies: Even if you have the vaccine you need immediate treatment if you’ve been bitten or scratched by an animal! We’ve looked up some local travel clinics in Thailand and Bali and know there are treatment options there. —UPDATED TO SAY I was bitten by a monkey and got rabies vaccines while in Bali. Post on that is here

JAPANESE ENCEPHALITIS (Stella) Japanese Encephalitis is recommended in Thailand and Bali for “some” travelers. This is a vaccine I would have preferred that all of us get, but we decided to get it for Stella since it is so expensive. We went over with our travel clinic doctor which sprays/creams to use and other precautions to take since this is a disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes.

HEPATITIS A (Stella and Lindsay) This vaccine is a routine vaccine recommended for everyone. I don’t have record of having this vaccine when I was little, so I decided to get the vaccine now. Stella is due for her last dose in Hawaii, and we have an appointment to take care of that at the travel clinic.

TETANUS (Lindsay and Abe) We both were outdated for our Tetanus shots and had that taken care of at a pharmacy. Stella is up to date with her Tetanus (or TDAPP) vaccine.

TYPHOID (Lindsay and Abe) This vaccine is recommended for “some” travelers in Thailand and Bali. Since we will be traveling through these areas for 2.5 months, we decided we fell into the “some” travelers” category. This vaccine is not approved for Stella’s age. We chose the oral vaccine option, which is a series of pills.

This is what WE decided to do. Based on your needs or where you are going you may not need any of these, or may want to consider other vaccines. Do your own research. As far as travel planning goes, we decided to cut out India because of certain disease risks.

Something to consider is that we will be in these areas for an extended period of time, almost 2.5 months total. You’ll notice on the website that vaccines may not be recommended for short term travelers. But again, do your own research!

Thanks for reading!