When I was last in Nigeria, I was up to date on my vaccinations for Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) and Tetanus/Diphtheria, thanks to the school vaccination program. So when we went to the travel medicine clinic back then, they gave us a prescription for malaria pills and sent us on our way.
This time, when my sister and I went to the clinic, vaccinations against the following were recommended:
- Cholera and Traveler’s Diarrhea
- Hepatitis A
- Meningococcal Meningitis
- Tetanus/Diphtheria (my last vaccination was no longer active)
- Typhoid Fever
in addition to the Hepatitis B vaccinations that we had already received in school between the last trip and this upcoming one. I can’t tell you how much a vaccine should cost but something tells me that it’s in the best interest of the clinic’s doctors to recommend more rather than fewer vaccines to their patients. I mean if there is even a remote chance you might come in contact with something unpleasant, they can mention it and play their “better safe than sick…or dead” card, and put the fear of God into some people. I am one of those people, so I got the recommended vaccines, even though the total cost shocked me. My sister opted out of one of the vaccinations on the list because she was in Nigeria seven years ago without it and she was fine. (We also received a prescription for medication to combat traveler’s diarrhea as well as other over the counter drug suggestions so we’re set.)
As he poked us with needles, he told us what was coming. The Yellow Fever vaccine was supposed to be the most painful. I watched my sister receive it and she winced like it was seriously hurting her. I’m a big baby so I was sure I’d probably start crying and I told the doctor this. When he told me that Yellow Fever was coming up for me, I prepared myself for a big sting and felt…nothing out of the ordinary. Surprised I asked him why this was the case and his answer was to squeeze underneath my upper armâ€”apparently being fat comes in handy sometimes!
Shortly after receiving the vaccinations, we felt ok. By the next morning, my sister was complaining of aching wrists, shoulders, back and feeling sick to her stomach. I felt some soreness on my right upper arm but was otherwise fine. I attended a wedding that evening and as the evening progressed, I felt worse but not attending the wedding was not an option I was willing to consider. By the time I got home from the wedding I was certain I had a fever. I woke up the next day feeling hot and achy, and nauseated. Thank goodness for Tylenol which helped the fever to break and helped with the aches. Now I’m left with a right arm that’s tender to touch and it protests if I use it too much (e.g. by typing). The good news is it’s practically proof that the doctor didn’t just inject us with water or some other placebo!
The last time I traveled, I was a kid, and my parents were responsible for covering the costs related to the travel. This time I’m in charge and quite amazing how the costs add up. The trip is pricey, but 100% worth it.
I am getting increasingly excited as D (departure) day approaches. Even small trip-related tasks like buying the mosquito repellent the doctor recommended, or making sure we have a complete list of the medications my mother takes, or making sure to return all my library books before we leave, are exciting. My family is not known for planning ahead but every time I have something big happening, I try. I know that the night before we’ll still be scrambling for things and be so grateful that some stores are open late so we can pick up some (literally) last minute things. It’s all part of the fun!