I realize this is a very frequently asked question, but somehow I just can't seem to find the time to actually do the needed research to extract the knowledge I need from the vast amount of information out there (also because I have a severe distaste of knowing anything medical), so I'm hoping someone who'd done similar research already will be around to save me the time. (I have read the Malaria article in the travel guide here, but that's as far as I've come.)
Of course I will visit a medical professional - but I'd like to have some knowledge of my own, specifically for possible alternatives, so that I don't blindly walk into spending way more money than need be.
That preamble out of the way: I'll be going to Peru for four weeks (visiting Lima, Arequipa, Lake Titicaca, Cuzco and the Huaraz/Caraz area), and a month later to Thailand for two weeks (uncertain yet where to, but probably main touristy places, with a focus on the mountains in the Chiang Mai area). I'll also visit Easter Island and Tahiti, but I think those two places are safe, or at most need a subset of what I'll need to get in Peru anyway.
I have never before been to any other "developing" nation like those two, so have never had any immunizations (last time I've had any jabs at all was probably when I was 12 or 13 years old).
What all kind of vaccinations and medicines am I going to need, and which others are generally recommended for these countries, but probably not necessary for me given the places I'll visit?
Specifically for Malaria - from what I've read in my Lonely Planet, almost my entire trip through Peru is through risk-free (mountainous) areas. The only time I'd be at risk would be the bus journey from Lima to Huaraz - and maybe around Caraz, since at 2270 meters that might be on the low side. Can I get away with not using any anti-malaria medicines there at all, should I take them just for the time period around those bus journeys, or should I be taking them for my entire stay in the country, regardless of how my Lonely Planet assesses the risks?
Similarly, given the specific areas of Peru I'll be visiting, do I need yellow fever protection at all? (That one doesn't occur in Thailand, right?)
Many thanks in advance to the kind soul who'll save me a lot of time here!
[ Edit: Edited on Feb 1, 2008, at 1:54 PM by Sander ]
Figuring out vaccinations are a nightmare...we went through the same thing before we left the UK. Based on what we were advised here's what I think.
As standard you have to make sure you have Hep A, Polio booster, Tetanus and Diptheria (combined shot), Typhoid. In addition to these you will need Hep B which is a 3 injection course (afterwards you also need a blood test to check you are immune) and possibly yellow fever. Although you may not be entering into a yellow fever area, Thailand may ask to see a yellow fever certificate if you have been in South America within 7 days (I think) of arrival into Thailand. It's best to check with your local Thai consul or embassy. We never took anti-malarials in South America because unless you are going into the Amazon lowlands (especially with regards to Peru) we were advised there isn't a risk.
Maybe your doctor's office has a nurse who can arrange these for you. Here in the UK nearly every doctors surgery has a nurse who doubles as a travel clinic nurse to give injections and travel medical advice. Also look at this site, it's really helpful.
Good luck figuring your vaccinations out!
I use this dutch (but also in english) LCR website a lot to check things for countries.
You can also see whether you will need a yellow fever vaccination in some cases described by loubylou.
You will always have to go to the nearest GGD however, I tried it before by saying that I know exactly what I want and I don't need a 'consult' which just adds about 20 euros or so. But no, that was not possible. You really have to make an appointment with the, those those...
Think it is only recommended that you get vaccins for DTP and Hep. A only. But maybe you can combine with Hep. B. A combined injection was available since last year when I was there.
But don't save too much money, because basically you don't need vaccins for DTP or Hep A/B, but it would be pretty stupid not to get them. You remember those commericals on tv/radio in the Netherlands that even in countries around the Mediterrean it is wise to get the vaccins?
You remember those commericals on tv/radio in the Netherlands that even in countries around the Mediterrean it is wise to get the vaccins?
No. Haven't listened to the radio or watched TV for most of this decade.
But thanks to you both! Together with a PM from Isa and some follow-up research on my own I have a pretty good grasp of the specifics now. Have an appointment next week (apparently a friend of our family is doing consults, so that should save me the cost of that, at least). Only need to figure out before then if there's any way I can get away with not getting the yellow fever vaccine, given the entry requirement for Easter Island.
Vaccinations are really difficult and there are risks BOTH ways, ( getting them or not) so hard for someone else to make the choice for you as this really depends on the person and the risks. We are 18 months into our world tour with a young child and so far we have not gotten any vaccines. My child has never had one in her life ( or any shot ) and we took her to rural Turkey and rural Morocco. We felt the risks for the vaccines were higher than the risk of the disease for us.
That said, I am stillll doing research on what or if we will get vaccines for other continents. I brought great books about vaccines with me. lol
You might want to get your blood titres done and find out what you have immunity to already. Many people have natural immuntiy to things that they have never had & never knew they had immunity to. My child has lots of natural immunity because she was a long term breast fed child and I have had all the childhood diseases and hep A and we are all extremely healthy.
If you are healthy and use good hygene you can do much to prevent disease. I ate raw clams in Haiti when I was young (dumb!) and did get hep A, but I am like so many, had no symptoms what so ever ( I finally turned yellowish which was my only clue) and 30 years later, have never had a problem like most who get it. The good news is I have life long immunity now and so does my child. You do have to watch some of the fear mongering that comes with vaccines as it is big business and it is hard to get the cold hard facts.
The risks for hep B vaccines are some of the worst, so i would rather take my chances with the disease which is also often symptomless.
Here is a great article about vaccines for travel by a doc I like who is more honest than most:
Remember that most travel clinics make money by talking you into more jabs, so do the research to feel confident in your choice. There are also homeopathics that you can use.
Good luck with a hard decision!