One of the most stress-inducing parts of pre-travel planning, for me, was the need to get vaccinated. I’m from the United States, where anything around or related to the medical world is expensive, minimum. I knew that the vaccines I needed were going to be costly. But, when the doctor told me that one of these vaccines (JE, anyone?) would cost 350$ each for two doses, I was blown away. One vaccine for 700$. Plus another few hundred for the others, not to mention that just the consultation cost over a hundred dollars. . That bit out more of my budget than I was prepared for. Vaccines, like JE or Rabies, are exponentially more expensive because they’re considered luxuries. In South East Asia, the JE vaccine is given since childhood, but it’s much less common in the U.S.
I thought, there had to be a better way. That 700$ really got me. My first thought was, “how badly do I reaaaally need this vaccine?”. The conclusion I came to after hours of meticulous article reading was badly enough. Vaccines are a decision made on a person to person basis. Some people get every vaccine money can buy. Others don’t get any vaccines. I knew that JE was a low risk, but low is still existent.
I began preparing myself mentally for having to cut out a huge segment of my rough travel outline to pay for this one vaccine. As I was wallowing in my pity party, a thought dawned on me. I was flying into Bangkok, which was a powerhouse of a city and probably had decent medical care. Maybe I could wait until I got there and then get my vaccines? I started looking into this possibility online, and found surprisingly few results. But, the people who had done it were recommending it in spades. To play on the safe side, I consulted my doctor. Who happened to have a very educated opinion on the matter, as ironically, he had gone traveling in SE years prior. His opinion? Absolutely, do it in Bangkok. He raved to me about how Bangkok had some of the best hospitals in the world and I’d definitely be in great care.
I took his advice, and after sleeping off my jet lag, I headed to the Thai Travel Clinic Center for Tropical Diseases. I was preparing myself for a headache, much like I might prepare myself for the DMV. Much to my elation, this was not the experience I had in store. When I arrived, without an appointment, I was asked to fill out some standard intake forms and let them make passport copies. After about 15 minutes in a waiting area, a nurse took my blood pressure, weight, height, and asked some more background questions before I was sent into consult with a doctor. My doctor spoke perfect English, and broke down her recommendations for all the vaccines I should get for the places I’d be traveling. We ended up having a decently long chat, and she even gave me some great tips for cities I planned on going to. I was given my vaccines in a quick and painless process, was asked to stay for another few minutes of observation, and then, was sent to billing.
If all this has sounded like a dream so far, you just wait.
For the consultation, the vaccines, absolutely everything, I paid a bill equivalent to about $35 USD. Yes, let’s all remember the sad beginnings of this article, where I spun a tale of woe about spending a month of my travel budgets of vaccines & doctors appointments. The Thai Travel Clinic had me out the door in an hour and a half for 35$. My mind was the definition of blown.
If you’re from a country where vaccines are a lot of money, and you’re going to a place with a safe medical system, consider getting them there. Talk to your doctor, get some opinions.