Monday, January 20, 2014

Getting Your Vaccinations for Cheap

I'm usually very unscrupulous with my planning which is why most of plans end up just being rough outlines that depend on a whole lot of improvisation, but this habit usually has me glossing over details in logistics because for some odd reason I think it's a non-issue.

For example, that visa that I absolutely need to get into Vietnam, a non-issue; I was sure that it wouldn't take more than 5 days to get that, so I focused on more important things like finances.  Turns out it was an issue.  I then spent my last weekend bombarding the Vietnamese embassy because my visa still hadn't been processed two days before I had to leave.  Harsh language was used, sweat was perspired, and extreme luck had me out the door in time for my flight with my passport in hand. 

It seemed like I needed to reevaluate what I considered non-issues, but of course, it happened again.

Vaccinations?  A non-issue, I'll just go to the doctor and get that sorted.  I went and found out the prices for each vaccination and immediately laughed at how ludicrous the number was.  

Doctor:  "Okay for Japanese Encephalitis, it's about $270 per shot."

Me: "Hahaha... oh, you're serious."

The grand total for all my vaccinations and immunizations for Southeast Asia ended up being about $1200 dollars, and if they expected me to pay that, that's just crazy talk.  My non-issue turned out to be an issue again, but I'm pretty sure most people wouldn't expect immunizations to cost as much as a round trip plane ticket.

I met some people that just said, "fuggit," and decided against getting any vaccinations at all.  They'd usually say this while sprawled out with a cigarette in mouth and they'd even add in something like, "yeah, so far so good haha!"  I just looked at these people and thought 1) they lack some serious forward thinking, and 2) they are fuckin' insane.  All I had to do was look up Japanese Encephalitis and read about it for me to know that immunizations were a must.  

For those of you that don't know, Japanese Encephalitis is some scary stuff; it has no cure, it makes your brain swell up like balloon, and if you live through it you become mentally retarded.  No thanks, I think I'll take the expensive vaccination over that.  I don't want a mosquito giving me any of that.
I am the harbringer of death.
Luckily, I found a way to get my immunizations for cheap, which is the whole point of this little parable, so that you don't end up like this guy and treat immunizations as a non-issue before you plan out your trip across the world.

The reason vaccinations for things like Typhoid, Hepatitis A, and Japanese Encephalitis are so expensive in the USA, besides the fact that everything dealing with medicine is exuberantly more expensive in the USA, is because these illnesses don't normally exist in America.  If there is no threat of an illness, hospitals will only order enough for the small demand, leaving a high price.  However, in the regions where these illnesses are most prominent, countries have to vaccinate their people to prevent epidemics, which leaves a big surplus of vaccines for a very low price.  Plus, most of the places that still have these illnesses are usually developing nations so the prices will be low because of the cheaper standard of living.

This all made sense, so I decided to wait on getting my vaccinations until I arrived in Bangkok, Thailand.  When I landed, I went straight to an international clinic that specialized in vaccinations inside the Bangkok Hospital for Tropical Diseases.
ohhhh.. so shiny
I came in, filled out some paperwork, and got my shots, all within 40 minutes.  The nurses were super friendly and the facility was on par with all the hospitals I've ever been in.  But that's not even the best part.  When I was checking out to pay, I looked at the huge number in Thai Baht and immediately converted it on my phone to US dollars. 

I only had to pay $67 for all the shots.  Say what?!  That's right; Japanese Encephalitis, done; Hepatitis A, check; Typhoid, terminaste.  But, $1200 to $67, that's not even fair.  That's a huge difference, but most people don't realize that vaccinations can be cheaper if you decide to get them abroad.

So, when you're planning out your next trip, make sure you don't write off vaccinations as a non-issue and do some research on regional clinics that can give you the exact same vaccination for a much more affordable price.  Unless you want to pay $1200, in which case, you're a lunatic. 

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