Today is the day we have been waiting for. The anticipation has been so thick you could cut the air with a knife.

Today is the day we get to go to Alberta’s Travellers’ Health Services.

Kidding aside, it is always with some trepidation that I go to this health unit. With the advent of the web it is quite easy to find what are the suggested needles and pills for travel to where you might head to in the world. I bolded suggested because there are very few ‘required’ shots to travel anywhere. For instance, you will need a yellow fever shot to travel to some countries if you have spent any time in a country where yellow fever is endemic in the week before you enter the said country. The rest of the shots or pills are only a matter of the odds. What are the odds that you will come in contact with some disease while you are in the area where the disease is entrenched. Even if the chances are quite good that you will contact some sickness and you decide not to, or cannot for medical reasons, take a vaccine you don’t have to and our medical system will still take care of you after the fact provided you can make it back to Alberta prior to passing on. Anyway, I do a lot of research on many health sites, like the WHO, IAMAT, Canada’s and other countries health sites and the provincial health sites. I have a damn good idea what is required for the place we are headed and how we are going to travel and yet the nurse assumes we are not knowledgeable and will follow blindly the information they been provided with by their sources. The two do not always jive and it has been a point of friction. I, for some odd reason, believe that my health is my business and I will not follow blindly what any health person has to say and they do not necessarily agree with that philosophy. In the end some compromise is made and we get out of the office with our lives intact.

After much research, we had decided to get yellow fever shots. The info on the web is very confusing and it seems to enter Tanzania the requirement for the shot is at the whim of the immigration officer you are dealt. If you do not have proof of the inoculation and it is the day that the border guards require the yellow piece of paper then you have to get poked on the spot. I am not squeamish but after an incident in an Indonesian hospital where I witnessed a doctor’s instruments being washed in the sink I have been leery of unnecessary medical procedures in developing countries. The other reason for the decision was the visa application for Tanzania specified that upon arrival in Zanzibar you will be required to produce proof of a yellow fever shot no ifs, ands, buts or maybes. When we arrived at the Travellers’ Health Services office, the nurse, who was nice enough, had done her due diligence and had already decided that we are up to snuff with our shots and we will not require yellow fever. We explained our decision to get it but she was not completely convinced until I produced the Tanzanian visa application.

Anyway we left with the yellow fever shot, a letter for our doctor to give us a prescription for Malorone and an update shot for whooping cough (That is a must for every adult you know. An up-sell if I ever heard one. Would you like a large fries with that? It is never mentioned that the administrator of such free shots gets paid for them by our medicare system).

Ouch. Both the needles and the cost. Our bill $296.00 for the yellow fever shots. The whooping cough was “free” as mentioned above. We have yet to purchase the Malorone pills.

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