Vaccinate me

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  • Tetanus/Diphtheria (my last vaccination was no longer active)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 arm—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!

16 thoughts on “Vaccinate me

  1. Always a pleasure reading from you,

    Typhoid Fever vaccination ( we have oral here) is the most important.

    Have you started thinking of 'pure water' 0 water in sachets. I learned some states banned it-

  2. Kai!!! just reading this is making me feel excited for you…can't wait for you to get to naija…please you have 2 choices… enjoy or 2. Not to enjoy your holiday.

    I'll prefer you chose the first…you're a true oyinbo girl o!

    Was in naija recently and I didn't have any vaccination before I left…although nothing happened to me but it probably makes loads of sense to fortify one's self agains all the deadly diseases!

  3. For me, Yellow Fever Vaccination was painfuuuuullll!!!

    Your preparations are in top gear…you make it sound so exciting that I wish I was in ur shoes…

  4. wow… so many vaccinations…. I dont think they're all necessary… I dont know… I mean I went through all my vaccinations here as is required for school and what not… but that's about it… anyways enjoy get ready…. make a list of everything you want to get and then check it off as you go along…

  5. girl all you need is your anti malaria and you're fine men. well i guess it is better safe that sorry. I am so excited you are going…greet my mummy and daddy for me oh..tell them i miss

  6. relaaaaaaaaaaaax… naija tht baaaaad?????????????how many vaccinations u wan take?.hope u enjoy ur stay sha afta alll the pricking

  7. @kafo

    It wasn't actually terrifying to get the vaccinations, and even the pain isn't terrifying, just unpleasant. Next time I'd recommend getting them spread out so your body doesn't have to work so hard.


    Why, thank you!

    Oh, I didn't know there was an oral vaccination for Typhoid. To be honest I didn't do a lot of research on the vaccinations. The only one that I knew I was absolutely getting was the one for Yellow Fever.

    I've never heard of this water—I'll look into it. Thanks.


    Thanks! I'm excited too. I had always planned to enjoy myself; I just had to face the truth about some of the things I could expect to deal with, right?

    lol "true oyinbo girl". I'd like to think I'm more "over cautious, non-risk taker" than anything else, especially since I have been raised abroad and my body hasn't had an opportunity to get used to some things that I might be exposed to.

    I know the chances of me catching anything are slim, but I'd hate to have regrets along the lines of "If only I had checked ahead of time to see what I should be prepared for…" Better safe than sorry!


    Ah, my sister would agree with you!

    I hope you get to visit home soon! I will bring back a lot of pictures and stories I hope!

    @Diamond Hawk

    To me, getting a vaccine is like getting insurance (life, house, travel, car): you hope you (or your loved ones) never have to use it but if you do, at least you're covered.

    Thanks for the tip on the list! I think I'll do that tonight.

    @Femi B

    lol will do! I'll tell them you're being a naughty girl in America!


    Thanks lady! I'll be gone for a month!


    We certainly will! Nothing crazy like clubbing or anything like that but we will gbadun ourselves very well.


    If I'm traveling anywhere I haven't been before, I know to check with the travel clinic to see if there is anything I should prepare for. I have been to Nigeria before and the last time I was there, I was eaten alive by mosquitos! Thank God they were friendly ones who just wanted my sweet blood.

    I will enjoy my stay all the more for the pricking, since I won't be as preoccupied about every mosquito bite I get (and believe me, even here if there is only one mosquito in all of Canada, it will find me and bite me 100 times). We all do what we have to do to prepare right?

  8. Can u take me with u? I could hide in the luggage. I want to go so bad. You know what u need to do? Take pictures of all the food u eat especially suya, i'm sure i'll die just by looking at them, but it will be worth it.

  9. @sting

    Happily! You will have to find your own way back though because I intend to bring back lots of lovely things to remind me of home and I won't have space in my luggage for you!

  10. The tetanus I definitely wouldn't downplay. My grandmother and aunt both died from not having vaccinations. And being intubated in a Nigerian ICU probably won't be a pleasant experience. But do prepare yourself for your arm hurting where you got the shot. I felt like someone hit me with a bat on my shoulder, waited for it to swell up….and then come back and beat me again. I couldn't raise my arm for a week.

    As for the diarrhea, that will just make your trip unpleasant and give you some bad memories….but what a way to lose five pounds!

    Typhoid fever, I don't know…..

  11. I'm just wondering why he recommend the meningitis? I know that one was really expense i got it last year and had to pay $100.

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