So…. the website is up and it’s linked to its own Twitter & FB pages. I haven’t published the FB page yet nor I have I advertised this page or my Twitter account yet to anyone. I want to be more comfortable with these online pages first and get my bearings. No, I haven’t told Shayne yet about this site. Cade knows. We want to surprise him with it. 🙂
I’m running a few things through my head that I need to get done. Lots of stuff, of course, but in the very near future (starting this week) Cade and I are going to start our immunizations. Thursday is Yellow Fever vaccine.
Since we will be traveling to out of the United States and specifically to South America the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a Traveler section that recommends a few immunizations for us. My immunization clinic/medical provider goes by what the CDC recommends. Also, I purchased The Essential Guide to Children’s Vaccines (2012) by Deborah Mitchell. It’s a nice, quick reference guide that breaks down all the necessary immunizations, timetables, reactions, requirements, etc. Ms. Mitchell covers overseas travel. Worth the $8.
I recommend reading about each disease/immunization & printing out the CDC Health Guide for your projected region prior to seeing your doctor. This will help out the medical provider, help you make an informed decision before getting immunized and minimize your need to go back to the doc with questions.
Ecuador is one of our primary travel locations. So we are starting with the recommendations by the CDC for this country first:
- All Travelers need Routine Immunizations (basic childhood vaccines)
- Most Travelers need Typhoid and Hep-A Immunizations
- Some Travelers need Hep-B, Yellow Fever, Rabies and Malaria*.
*Malaria ‘vaccine’ is given via an oral prophylaxis like a liquid drop or a series of pills.
Luckily, Cade & I are both up-to-date on our Routine Immunizations for All Travelers. As for the shots for Most Travelers, we’ve both been inoculated against Hep-A, which is a lifetime immunization so we’re good to go there. Then there is the Typhoid shot…
When I first joined the military in 1991 I assigned overseas so I was required to get the Typhoid vaccine prior to travel. Honestly, I cannot remember if the shot itself was any worse than the seemingly 10 gallons of immunization fluid you get in basic training, but what I do remember is what happened to me about 2 hours after. It was hell.
I’ve only had the flu once in my life (luckily) but it was like the flu, a stomach virus, headache, chills, and depression all rolled up in to one bout of awfulness. I do recall praying to God while laying on my dorm room bed. Seriously. After I crawled to the bathroom and “removed the evil” I felt so much better. I’ll tell you though, that memory has stuck with me since and if that episode was anything like actually having Typhoid then Cade & I will get the shot. Note: Typhoid immunization is only good for 2 years. I just dread (mostly for Cade) how badly we may get sick after the shot. I’ll let you know.
After all that we are left with immunizations for Some Travelers. Like Hep-A, we’ve both been immunized against Hep-B (also a lifetime shot). So we are left with Yellow Fever (I have received but it expired – it’s good for 10 years) and Rabies which is a series of 3 shots pre-exposure and if exposed then there are 3 more. 😦
This may make you wonder why we would even get all the Some Travelers’ shots. Yellow Fever vaccine is required by other countries we would like to visit in South America and not having the vaccine could bar us from entering. I’ve read that if travelers don’t have proof of the Yellow Fever vaccine he/she will be either turned away or directed to a medical facility. I don’t want to be in the position where we are turned away at a foreign border or delayed by needing to go a medical facility for a preventative issue. Also, it’s kind of risky relying on that foreign clinic’s supply, i.e., will they have the vaccine?, how much will it cost?, will a medical facility be close and open?, etc. Yellow Fever immunization is good for 10 years and we can get it for free now, so let’s do it now.
Sidebar: if you’re getting the Yellow Fever vaccine make sure you request the yellow international Yellow Fever shot record.
A print out on a white piece of printer paper won’t fly. The good thing about this card is you can also add your other vaccinations to it.
Make a photocopy of it when traveling and keep it with your important papers in case you lose this one. Not sure if your copy will get you out of a bind when crossing a border but it will be good reference for you and your medical provider in case of exposure to something like Rabies.
Let’s talk, Rabies. It’s an “optional” immunization while traveling to many places. The CDC says, “it is not a major risk for most travelers.” Pre-exposure, travelers require 3 injections over the course of a month (Day 0, Day 7, and Day 21 or 28). Furthermore, if exposed to a rabid animal or an animal with an unknown medical history there is a requirement of 2 more rabies vaccines and one immune globulin. For a total of 6 injections.
So why get the the rabies immunization if Rabies is not a major risk to most and requires 3 shots on a strict time-frame prior to travel?
Three reasons: 1) Rabies is pretty much always fatal without prompt treatment. The symptoms leading to death are pretty awful – ever see the movie ‘Cujo’? Wikipedia says: “Symptoms may soon expand to slight or partial paralysis, anxiety, insomnia, confusion, agitation, abnormal behavior, paranoia, terror, and hallucinations, progressing to delirium”. What a horrific way to die. 2) We will be journeying in toward the Amazon Rainforest. We expect and plan to be around exotic and wild animals. There is a higher potential that we will be exposed in the Amazon Rainforest than at our local dog shelter in Colorado. By starting the immunization series now, our bodies will have the chance to start combating Rabies upon exposure and give us time while we are working on getting the final 3 injections. Sitting here at home makes me think that having those 3 shots now will buy me a little bit of ‘peace of mind’. 3) Remember all those 3 shots we’ll need now? Well, anyone exposed will still need those AND the post-exposure injections. I think being exposed (a bite or a scratch) is bad enough but now all those shots (6) after exposure? I like the idea of buying a bit of protection by starting with the series and then mitigating the amount of shots at once after exposure.
Lastly, there is Malaria. The Malaria ‘vaccine’ in actually an oral prophylaxis (either in liquid or pill form). The way I understand it, the traveler takes the medication around the time of potential exposure and just after. I still don’t know as much about it as I would like, but I do know there is a version for kids. I hear there are many funky side-effect, e.g., physical reactions and Technicolor dreams. We’re going to get a full check up prior to departure and that is when we’ll get our medications. I will have more info by then.
So, at the minimum we will each need at least 5 shots prior to leaving. Oye! As I mentioned above, we are going to get Yellow Fever knocked out Thursday. Cade is like many other little kids: he hates them.
Shayne, Cade and I are all still traumatized over the time he needed a shot or two when he was about 3 yr old. I wasn’t expecting it and neither was either boy. We were all in the treatment room when the technician came in to give him the shots. He was old enough to know what was going on but too young to rationalize the moment. It took Shayne (then around 13 yrs old) and me to hold him down for him to get the shot and prevent anyone from getting injured. Like I said….we all remember that moment still.
I did a little research and found a website for a product called The Buzzy. To my understanding, it was created by a Pediatrician mom who wanted to find a way to make shots hurt less or not at all. It uses vibration and cold (using tiny ice packs) to sort of confuse the nerves in the child’s arm so he may not even notice the injection. They also recommend using a visual distraction method as well, i.e., flashcard.
I say ‘may not notice’ because we haven’t tried it yet. Yes, I bought it. Cade knows we have it. He also knows he and I need a bunch of shots and I think he’s convinced he won’t feel the injection at all. Uh-oh… I watched the videos online and saw a couple of kids get shots and not flinch. Cross fingers it works. I may or may not have allowed Cade to believe that the shot actually goes into The Buzzy and not his arm. I didn’t tell him this. I just didn’t correct him….
To be fair to me, at his yearly physical the doctor said he needed a flu shot. I kinda sorta lied to him. Okay, I lied and said he can get it later, but in mom and doctor code-talk I said bring the shot. I kept thinking of the alternative – him getting the flu – and I decided I would have to ask for forgiveness after. When the technician came in to give him the shot he had only 30 seconds to think about it before he got it. It was quick and less painless. His eyes watered but he didn’t cry. He and I were very proud of him and he told me that he was glad I didn’t tell him because he didn’t want to think about it too long before the shot happened. Did I just get the green light from him to lie to him for his own good…? I’ll take that as a yes. 🙂
So, Cade, if you’re older and reading this. I’m sorry if we end up trying The Buzzy and it doesn’t work or prevent you from feeling the shot. I didn’t lie. I just encouraged your ‘creative thinking’ when you believed The Buzzy would take the needle for you. I love you and please don’t put me in Shady Pines Retirement Home. 🙂
Any Feedback, Comments, Experiences, Corrections, etc. on Immunizations is most welcome. Thanks.