Our health and safety is one of the many things we take for granted in the United States. The debate over healthcare can rage on, but we all have access to appropriate vaccines for our children without having to face the many health issues the rest of the world has to endure. Traveling to Uganda presents certain risks and to minimize them, I must get vaccinated.
Having served in the United States Air Force for eight years and having had every vaccine imaginable from anthrax to typhoid, I was not looking forward to going under the needles again. Unfortunately, I lost my shot records and can’t recall exactly what was given to me previously.
Interestingly, a large discount box store offers an on-line program where you can put all your travel information, shot history, and medical conditions for a doctor to review. He then gives recommendations as to what vaccines you may need prior to your trip. He recommended I take typhoid, yellow fever, tetanus, and bacterial meningitis along with prescription medications for traveler’s diarrhea and malaria.
After the doctor reviews your form, you can talk with the pharmacy and go into the store for the actual vaccinations. I prepared myself mentally and physically before walking in and taking the shots.
I arrive at the pharmacy and get in the wrong line. Not a good sign. I finally get all my paperwork completed and prepare myself to meet with the pharmacist who will administer the shots. She starts out with the easy stuff, the oral medication for traveler’s diarrhea and malaria. While these are relatively easy medications to take, the potential need for them and side effects from them are extensive and a bit scary. Nonetheless, I take note of all precautions and instructions on when to take them. I begin by taking the medication for Malaria right before I leave and continue to take it for a week upon my return to the states. The Ciprofloxacin for traveler’s diarrhea is taken as needed.
Now for the good news, typhoid is now available in a pill form with 4 pills taken over 7 days. Sweet. One less shot to get. But wait, again with the potential side effects and precautions. Guess there really is no free lunch in this world.
Finally, I am set for my three actual shot vaccines. The first two, tetanus and meningitis, are not so bad and aren’t too painful. Next is yellow fever. The yellow fever has to go into a “fatty” part of your arm (the super sensitive part of the back of your arm). That one stung quite a bit.
After a few days, I’m in tiptop shape again. Only some residual ache in the injection sites but no other side effects. I even finished up the typhoid series without incident.
A few moments of stinging and residual ache is well worth the peace of mind that I can travel to Uganda and teach trial skills without being worried about getting sick.
Attorney Sunshine Bradshaw is a trial lawyer dedicated to representing people who have been injured due to the negligence of others. When she is not fighting for justice for her clients, she is riding her motorcycle, playing with her pug, or snuggling with her cats.