Some Notes on Travel Vaccinations

I know there are a number of you who read that are a bit earlier in the process than we currently are; this is primarily for you. I know that many agencies say, “Start your vaccinations while you’re waiting!” but don’t really drive that point home. I’m about to put it in all caps for you, then give a couple of recommendations based on recent experience. (As in, Tuesday through today experience.)


Now let me tell you why: I am having an adverse reaction to one of my vaccinations. I suspect it’s the MMR, but it’s hard to tell since I got three shots in one day. On Tuesday morning, we got the shots, on Tuesday evening, I did my normal workout, on Tuesday night I got so cold that I was hugging a heating pad set on HIGH both to get warm and to ease the pain of the injection site on my right arm. Late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning, I got so hot that I wanted to jump in a vat of ice water. It was a classic bad reaction to a vaccine. Now, I’m not sure it wouldn’t have happened if I’d spaced out the vaccines a bit more, but I’m sure it didn’t help to have measles, mumps, rubella, meningococcal, and Hepatitis B all duking it out with my immune system, trying to prompt it into making antibodies for everything. Today, which is two days later, I still have a low grade fever and was absolutely exhausted after leaving the house to run just one errand. I have also developed a lovely rash, about three inches in diameter, around my injection site. I am lucky that I did not have to work today. I did go to work yesterday, and survived by the force of ibuprofen and my iron will, but just barely. I really should have called in sick, but it took me awhile to realize that the way I felt sitting on the sofa in the early morning was no indication of how I’d feel later in the day. (The same goes for today. See also: trying to run an errand.)

So here comes the recommendation. Vaccinate early, and often, and gradually. You can get the boosters for childhood vaccinations (which you may not have been paying attention to now that you’re an adult, but, yes, you do need boosters even as a grown-up) at your regular physician’s office. Those include tetanus, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella), and polio if you got a sugar cube or a gel vaccine as opposed to an injection. Start your other vaccinations as soon as you can so you can space them out accordingly. Hepatitis A and B can be combined for two injections, after which you’ll need one more of Hepatitis B only. Following this schedule, you can add just one other shot per time to get covered for yellow fever, meningitis, and typhoid. Fewer shots each time means less your body has to do and less of a chance you’ll end up like me, needing a nap after running one errand.

Jarod hasn’t had a hard time with his vaccinations, so it does depend on the person. You may be able to do every single vaccination at once and feel fine. Jarod did experience localized pain after both his tetanus booster and the MMR, but that’s it. It’s all about how your particular body responds to each vaccine. So if you’d like to throw caution to the wind, you go right ahead, and you may be all right. Then again, you might be sitting at home, alone, eating crackers because they require less energy than a sandwich. I’m just saying.


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