Do not underestimate the cost and foresight needed to plan travel vaccinations. When we embarked upon planning our trip we had no idea how many travel vaccinations we needed, the whole subject was far off our radars, we were more interested in devoting time to planning the journey. In total we had 10 injections each for the following vaccinations:
Rabies (3 jabs)
All the jabs were free on the NHS except Yellow Fever and Rabies. In addition we had to decide whether to have the preventative for Japanese encephalitis but decided against it on the basis of risk v’s cost (small risk of contracting it in our situation v’s the high cost of the vaccine – £120). Just before we travelled there was a world shortage of the yellow fever jab and we spent a good afternoon phoning round private clinics trying to locate it.
My NHS nurse advised me to shop around for the best price of rabies and yellow fever. Eventually we found yellow fever at a private clinic in Nottingham. We paid £48 each which was cheaper then the £60-70 most other places seemed to be charging. A local doctor told us he thought he could get hold of the rabies jab for £40 a shot (three shots needed) but I asked the clinic that did our yellow fever jab if he could ‘price match’ and he did. We paid £40 for each of the three rabies jabs and £48 for the yellow fever coming to a vaccination total of £168 which, we considered a fair price but a cost we would have preferred to spend on other things.
This was our first foray into the world of private medicine. After booking our appointments I became a bit apprehensive. In contrast to the NHS it was so easy to book a private appointment. We were told we would have to pay a £90 initial consultation fee, I explained that I didn’t need a consultation, the initial £90 fee was duly waived with the same speed in which I had booked the appointment. It all seemed a bit shifty to me, I questioned who it was that regulates these clinics? was it safe? Call me over cautious but I checked with the General Medical Council and the Care Quality Commission. I was comforted to learn that both regulators had the private clinic on their books.
And so, to an extent we were comforted and off we went of to receive the yellow fever and rabies inoculations. In the event, our trip into the world of private clinics was pleasant, despite the receptionists attempts to sell me hair replacement therapy on the way out.
The next minefield to navigate was what malaria tablets in which to invest. We aren’t tablets people, popping a pill a day goes against the grain but I guess contracting malaria would be worse so we did what seemed the sensible thing and after hours of more online research, we settled on a ten month course of doxycycline.
In our case for South America and South East Asia it came down to a choice between two drugs, either doxycycline or malarone. I research hard and came up with the following conclusions
Doxycline v’s Malarone
- Price – doxycycline is much cheaper than malarone.
- Apparently doxycycline has been around for decades and the long term effects are better known. malarone is a relatively new drug.
- There are less side effects with malarone. Doxycycline can cause heartburn and can make the skin photo sensitive.
In the end, in our case it came down to price. It would have cost close to a £1,000 for a ten month course of malarone which simply priced us out. Doxycycline cost £65 for the same length of prevention. I called a pharmacist friend who put my mind at rest, apparently doxycline is an antibiotic regularly prescribed for conditions such as acne. In addition, the private doctor said fair skinned people are more likely to suffer with sensitivity to the sun and neither of us are particularly fair skinned.