Getting a travel vaccine isn’t always cheap or convenient, but it’s important if you’re traveling to certain parts of the world.
Along with packing a first aid kit, researching and obtaining travel vaccines should be part of your travel preparations. But what do travel vaccines cost? I was going to find out.
I needed a typhoid vaccine for my trip to Nicaragua. Most primary care physicians don’t offer this, so I made an appointment with a travel medicine specialist. Despite how quick and easy it was, it wasn’t cheap. The office charged a mandatory $48 consultation fee along with separate fees for the actual travel vaccines.
Important Read: The Travel Health Research You Should Do Before Every Trip
For reference, I’ve included their vaccine price list at the bottom of this post. Every doctor will have different fees, but this can serve as a guideline or estimate for your visit.
What Happened at the Appointment?
I met with a nurse practitioner who asked where I’d be traveling, the types of activities I had planned, and general information on my travel style. We talked about my immunization records, reviewed my allergies and pre-existing health conditions.
This information helped her point out potential travel risks and develop a travel health plan individualized to my needs. It’s also important to make sure that the travel prescriptions and/or won’t interfere with any other pre-existing medications and conditions.
After our conversation, she agreed with the recommendation to receive a typhoid vaccine and explained my options. There is an injectable version (inactivated) and an oral version (live virus). Both came with different side effects, efficacy, and costs. I walked out of the clinic with four pills to take as prescribed. Cost = $60, not including the $48 office visit fee.
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What Do Travel Vaccines Cost?
Every office sets their own prices for services and vaccines, but I’ve included a flyer from my travel clinic as a sample of what travel vaccines cost. I had already received both Hepatitis A & B which are often recommended for travel. Someone needing a more extensive set of immunizations could be looking hundreds of dollars in travel vaccines!
More tips for your travel clinic visit
Bring a copy of your immunization records.
If you have an international certificate of vaccination, that’s your best option since the office will update it for you during your visit. If not, any written copy of your dates of vaccination will do.
Don’t guess on which vaccines you’ve already had: if you’re wrong, you’ll either be unnecessarily vaccinated a second time or worse, you’ll forego a vaccine you needed because you thought you already received it. Knowing all your dosage dates is handy to track potential needs on booster shots.
Don’t set yourself up for surprise.
It’s important to do your own research even if you have an appointment set up with a doctor. You don’t want to show up and realize all of a sudden that you’ll need three vaccines when you expected one.
Some immunizations need to be given a week or more in advance of your travel to take effect. Others require multiple dosages, leaving you unprotected if you didn’t allow adequate time to schedule extra appointments. Plan in advance!
Some diseases don’t have vaccines (like zika virus), so read up on precautions and understand the risks before booking a trip.
Important Read: Why You Should Get Travel Insurance for Every Trip
My nurse practitioner was knowledgeable on travel health, but it’s impossible to know every risk of every country off the top of your head. She had reference materials available to look things up, but her information was listed by ‘department’ (like a state or province) and not by city, so you might not immediately connect whether you’re at risk.
Gather information ahead of time, ask questions, and don’t forget to pay attention to the other tips your medical professional provides. They have more to offer than just writing prescriptions or jabbing your arm.
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If you have a genuine concern for something that your health professional didn’t bring up, ask them about it!
My simple request for some ciprofloxacin (an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections, often used for travelers’ diarrhea) was honored without the blink of an eye. I hope I don’t need to use it, but better safe than sorry.
This advice goes for more than medication: bring up any health concerns you have so you’re comfortable for your trip.
Don’t limit yourself to travel clinics.
Seeing a travel specialist is a smart move if you need information or for a vaccine that some other doctors don’t provide. However, it’s not always the cheapest option and they don’t always accept insurance.
Look for free options (like a flu shot from your employer) and ask your pharmacy or primary care physician about standard vaccines, like a tetanus booster.
>>>>> Related Post: How to Afford More Frequent Travel
Know your options and take advantage of any savings you qualify for! A penny saved on health costs is one more penny to spend on the travel itself.
Travel vaccines are an important part of taking care of yourself, they come at a cost. The good news is many vaccines protect you for years (or even a lifetime!) so paying for them now may mean your next trip is covered.
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- My Experience Filing a Travel Insurance Claim: I had a less-than-ideal time filling out this travel insurance claim, but in the end, it paid out.
- Traveling Smarter (Because Life Happens): When traveling to “iffy” countries like Colombia, protect yourself with these safety tips.
- Top 10 Travel Tips: Advice for Your Next Trip: I travel about 25% of the year, so I’ve learned a lot of things along the way to make travel easier, safer, and healthier.
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