Superhuman Immunity to Everything (except rabid dogs)

Hello everyone!

It’s been a while since my last post, but things have been incredibly busy – this is my last entry before I head to Cheshunt tomorrow for the VSO ICS Pre-Departure Training Weekend, which I’ll discuss next time.

This week, it’s everyone’s favourite subject: INJECTIONS.

A quick confession before we start – I really don’t mind injections. Some people get really freaked out about needles, but I don’t have much of a problem with them. Therefore, this is going to be a fairly calm saunter through the injections – there won’t be any OTT ‘and the needle was HUGE’ nonsense, because I don’t care to look at the needles.

I won’t lie, however – it was one heck of a rigmarole getting to the 95% vaccinated point. I initially went down to my local surgery (notoriously useless) to ask about travel vaccines. After paying £16 to submit my medical history to the surgery that already has it, I was told to get in touch with the local NHS travel clinic. 8 phonecalls and 5 left voicemails later, I had still not spoken to anyone.

I took the ‘stuff this’ approach, and instead got in touch with my local MASTA clinic. My advice: skip your GP and go to MASTA. They are used to sorting travellers out with injections, and setting up appointments with travel clinics. A week after I got my free health breifing, where they work out what you’ll need and what all your options for medication are, I went along to the travel clinic for my first injections.

Since my local surgery had wasted so much of my time, I was getting fairly close to the cut off for my first rabies injection…so I had 4 different vaccines in one sitting. 

– It really sounds worse than it was. They aren’t painful.

The vaccines I’ve had cover me for:

  • Hep A
  • Typhoid
  • Rabies
  • Yellow Fever
  • Meningitis

(I got a combined Hep A and typhoid vaccine, rather than the dreaded double-shot Hep A, so there was minimal agony.)

I should warn you that having all these vaccines in one go sends you a bit doo-lally. I felt fairly peaky for about 3 days afterwards (one of which was my sponsored cycle), and had a head that felt like a helium balloon post-inoculation. 

I’ve only got one rabies vaccine left to get (it’s a course of 3), and my anti-malarial tablets have been ordered.

Be warned: medicine is EXPENSIVE. The course of 3 rabies injections alone is £165…protection against mental mutts doesn’t come cheap. The best part of it is that the vaccine doesn’t actually stop me from getting rabies – it just postpones the bad bit until I can get to a hospital for the post-exposure vaccine. Che sera.

I can claim back the cost for all of my injections, but have to pay for the anti-malarials, since I’ve been advised to get Malarone (it too, is bloody expensive an the NHS don’t believe in giving you anti-malarials). I don’t really mind though. I’d rather be out of pocket than be struck down by an anopholes smooch.

I think that’s everything on the medical front – I am off to make sure I’ve got everything printed out for tomorrow. Tune in again soon to find out about the training weekend!

Laura x