Needles. Bah. But the alternative isn’t so great. There are a few recommendations from Health Canada as to what vaccines one should get before venturing to SE Asia, but I’m not getting all of them. I wish I had realized that vaccines like the hepatitis A and B shot, Twinrix®, need to be started six months before departure. I think it’s a good idea for anyone to get vaccinated against hep A and B, I just kind of spaced it these past twenty years. Whoops. How it works is you take one shot, then one a month later and then another six months after the first shot. There is a rapid schedule, but that’s four shots instead of three.
I got the first two shots in the United States at Walgreens’ walk-in clinic. It cost my nearly $150 a shot. In Ontario the shots are $70 each. But I suppose my health is worth it. I need to take the next shot whilst I’m in SE Asia, but that’s ok. Around the time it’s due I’ll be returning to Bangkok for Songkran, the Thai new year, which will be madness. The first two shots provide some immunity for a year, so as long as I get that third shot I should be fine.
I went to a travel clinic at the Thunder Bay Health Unit to get the remainder of my vaccines. The doctor was a Scottish ex-patriat who scolded me for wanting to eat street food in Thailand. Actually, his last words were, “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
I had to get my tdap updated which was covered under OHIP, but having the doctor hand me pamphlets, advise me on what illnesses I could contract, prescribe me drugs in case of malaria (which I didn’t fill) and travellers’ diarrhea, prescribe me an over-the-counter vaccine for typhoid and cholera (Dukoral®) and basically condescend me the whole time costs me a bargain $30 (plus the price of drugs.)
The other things to consider are anti-nauseants, bug repellent, sunscreen and after-bite stuff. (Oh, and condoms.) All of this stuff is available in SE Asia, so bringing it may be overkill, especially as my bag is only 36L. But somethings like broad-spectrum sunscreen or well-made condoms might be worth bringing them. Just like opting to not bring malaria pills – I’m sure they’ll have the drugs that aren’t malaria-resistant in whatever country I’m in should I potentially contract it. Plus, I’m already on minocycline for my rheumatoid arthritis, so doxycycline would probably be overkill. It’s all stuff that has to be considered.
I run out of my RA meds a few days after arriving in Thailand, so I plan to see a doctor there to refill my prescription as I know the drugs will be way cheaper there. Hopefully a doctor will just prescribe it to me without wanting to do a million tests – which I have just gotten done in Ontario – and plan on taking a copy of the results with me.
So nearly two weeks before I arrive in Bangkok and all I have left to do is pack, pack up my room here and get over this nasty cold that seems to have been my Christmas surprise. Merry Christmas everyone. Have a great new year.