I can’t believe that it’s only just over 6 months until I ship out from DC! This milestone brings about one of the least fun bits of preparation – making sure I have all my jabs in order to not come down with the Black Plague (or worse, typhoid) while traveling.
The CDC recommends a number of immunizations for U.S. citizens traveling to South Korea long term, but the total for getting all of them would add up to over $2,000! So I’m choosing instead to be judicious about which ones I get here in the States – I figure if I decide to take a trip to somewhere more tropical, I can get shots for Japanese Encephalitis or anti-malarial drugs at my local Korean hospital (right?). I’m sticking to getting the Hepatitis A/B combo series and the Typhoid single jab (I’m going with the injection (protection for 2 years) rather than pills – even though the pills are good for 5 years – because I’ve read that the pills can cause nausea and I’m already dealing with some annoying digestive issues (yay job stress)).
If you’re looking for travel immunizations in the Washington, DC area, I’d definitely recommend the Washington Travel Clinic (really the practice of a single doctor – Dr. Akl). First of all, they have their price list prominently displayed on their website (these shots were definitely something I needed to save up for, so that was very helpful) and they are quite upfront about the fact that none of these shots are covered by insurance. Secondly, when I went in for my appointment, Dr. Akl listened carefully to where I was going and which shots I wanted to get – never tried to upsell me on any additional vaccines – and actually suggested that I get a blood test to see if I already have antibodies for Hep A&B. Based on my age, I should have gotten the Hep A/B vaccines when I went to college – but for the life of us, neither I nor my parents can remember for certain! On top of that, the medical practice I went to as a teen closed up years back and no one can locate my medical records from that time. It’s times like this that I wished I lived somewhere like the UK, where apparently they put all of your immunization records in a little red booklet (like a vaccine passport) that your parents keep and give to you when you’re an adult. Something like that would be SO useful right about now.
Thankfully, Dr. Akl told me that a $30 blood test is all I need to find out whether I’ve actually got the antibodies for the Hepatitides already floating around in my bloodstream. If so, I’ll be able to save almost $400! So I’m hopefully awaiting the results of that test – if it comes back positive for the antibodies, I’ll just have to schedule my typhoid jab for December (just before I move out of DC).
UPDATE: The test came back that I’m immune to Hep B but not Hep A (lord only knows how that happened). So I set up a second appointment at the Clinic and was in and out in 10 minutes with the first in the Hep A series of shots. I’ll just have to go back in 6 months (December) for the second Hep A shot and the Typhoid. Done and dusted – and still saving about $200!