Required and Recommended Vaccinations For Volunteering Abroad
When I decided to embark on this adventure I had no idea what I was going to get into when it came to staying healthy abroad. Most of the diseases that most of the world suffers with, I’ve never heard of and had no idea about the endemics. Through my research, I’ve come to feel an immense sense of gratitude of living in a society where health is such a luxury. For as much debate there is about healthcare these days, the simple fact that we don’t have Polio, Cholera or Epidemic Meningococcal Meningitis to be cautious of is so comforting.
As Americans, its amazing how much we take for granted, including fresh clean water. We never go to a restaurant or even reach for our tap water with the fear of catching Hepatitis A or Typhoid Fever (both which are transmitted through food and water). However most of the world struggles with these diseases because of the lack of pure water. CLEAN WATER! The essential source of life. It really puts things into perspective. So I naturally vaccinated myself with these two immunizations.
Most countries recommend certain vaccinations, but Kenya and India specifically require the Yellow Fever immunization before you are granted a visa into the country. Over the past few years the number of reported cases of yellow fever has increased dramatically and the transmission zone has expanded to urban areas.
Now for those of you who know me personally, you know that I’m a gung-ho alternative medicine activist, but I have to say that western medicine truly has a powerful and amazing ability to save lives. And western medicine practices are crucial to much of our society. With that being said, I think we abuse the system and tend to focus more on a symptomatic rather than preventative approach to everyday health. However, I completely see the need for vaccinations in countries suffering from endemics. Its actually ridiculous that our humanitarian efforts are not based around providing these basic immunizations to the population in these countries.
Anyway, so I received the yellow fever vaccine and I also opted to get a Rabies vaccination since I will be working so closely with wildlife. Rabies is transmitted through the saliva of a rabid animal and can be very deadly. Out of all the vaccines I received, this is the only one that required three shots administered at certain intervals during the month. In terms of pain, it was probably the most mild. Yellow Fever left me with a welt for over a month and made my arm extremely sore.
But I have to say, that none of this information would be possible with out Passport Health, a great company in San Diego dedicated to traveling immunizations and other health concerns. They were amazing and introduced me to the SteriPen (Handheld UV Water Purfier). I highly recommend them!
Its Expensive To Stay Healthy While Volunteering
Here is the cost breakdown for all of my vaccines:
- Yellow Fever (required for Kenya/Tanzania): $145.00
- Hepatitis A (transferred through food and water): $95.00
- Rabies (required for work with Animal Conservation): $885.00
- Typhoid Fever (transferred through food and water): $125.00
Total Vaccination Costs: $1250