Remember that you need plenty of time to get all of your injections sorted. It can be confusing, so check this guide to save you time and effort!
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Ironically before diagnosis, I HATED injections, avoided them at all costs, even missed out on a few because I was too scared, then I got diagnosed with an illness that requires injections to survive (less now on a pump), so I had to just get over it, quickly, and with some practice, I DID! I don't mind injections now, as long as they don't give me side effects- unlike the FLU jab which always makes me sick, surely that defeats the purpose?!
Sooo..injections for travel are obviously country/region specific- so just like the doctors do, I used http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations.aspx. I find it so useful because you can search via destination, then it also gives you updates on any outbreaks etc.
Some injections can have certain side effects for diabetics and non-diabetics! So here is my breakdown of what I needed for each country...and what it did to me! Remember to give yourself plenty of TIME to get injections sorted, I'd say 8 weeks, you need to space some of them out over a few weeks and you want to make sure you are fully protected before leaving- especially if your immune system is a little lower- i.e. mine. Thank you for that diabetes.
Hepatitis A & B- the NHS offers a combined hep A & B for freeee- it requires a booster after one year :) This injection made my arm a little heavy, felt like I had been lifting heavy weights! But apart from that I felt fine, always keep an eye on your blood sugars after an injection, as it can possibly cause them to go a little higher than normal, it depends on how sensitive your body is! But never worry, it's only a temporary high.
Tetanus- In Britain, A tetanus vaccination is given as part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme. So if you aren't sure whether you've had a full course or not, check with your GP.
Typhoid- is available free from the NHS, and it comes in the form of an injection, or tablet I believe, I had a quick painless injection- lucky no side effects, some may experience some headaches or tummy aches, 1 in 100 to be exact! You should ideally aim to get this sorted a month before you travel.
Rabies- You need this from a local travel clinic, or pay for it at your doctors. If you shop around you can get a good deal, but you need three shots, spaced out over 6 weeks. The price ranges from £30-70 per dose, but if you use Boots Chemist you get a free bottle of Deet Mosquito spray which you will also need to prevent malaria! The second dose is given seven days after the first. The third dose is given 21 or 28 days after the first, depending on which vaccine is used. You need a booster shot 1 year after, if you are re-entering a rabies risk zone- which I am, and as of writing, only discovered I need a booster, need to get that sorted, whoops! After having the rabies vaccine, some people experience temporary soreness, redness and swelling at the injection site for 24 to 48 hours after the vaccination- My arm feels heavy, and I can't lift weights for 24 hours :
Yellow Fever- Caused by nasty mosquitos! This one I need because I am specifically entering the Amazon rainforest- which I am ridiculously excited about. Some places require proof of vaccination- especially if you are coming from a country with a risk of Yellow Fever. You need it 10 days before you enter your “yellow fever” zone (Sounds like a club). This vaccination lasts for life, & it’s around £60 so I would recommend getting it anyway- it is an investment into your travelling future! Here is a useful map indicating the risky zones...and as you can http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/advice/disease-prevention-advice/yellow-fever/yellow-fever-risk-areas.aspx Some people will be exempt from the injection due to an increased risk of side effects associated with it...such as people over 60, babies, etc. It also suggests those with a weakened immune system such as those with HIV or undergoing radiotherapy & those allergic to eggs! This injection is usually okay for diabetics, however if you are unsure, make sure you consult your DSN first!
Mosquitoes are the bane of my life when travelling, and it is important to protect yourself from Malaria, as it is life-threatening. When I was in Thailand, I was only in a Malaria risk zone for a little bit so I used Malarone anti-malaria tablets, but for backpacking South America, everywhere we are planning to go, has risk, so we decided to go on a medication for the whole trip.
I won't lie, I was a bit weary of this, considering all the scare stories I hear of Anti- malaria meds, but, I have weighed up the pros and cons, and I think it's better to give them a go, than put myself at risk! Hoping they don't make me sick, but only time will tell- we have chosen Doxycycline, which makes you more sensitive to the sun...yay for me who is already as white as snow and burns like a peach. It is relatively cheap & is taken 2 days before entering the Malaria zone..then 4 weeks upon leaving. That's about 4 months of malaria tablets...yay.
Other methods of prevention:
Use clothing to protect the skin, particularly between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes feed- long sleeved tops, trousers etc, keep them light ovi when in the heat you don’t want to melt!
Use DEET- based insect repellent on exposed areas of skin- I use Boots version, does the job!
Sleep under a mosquito net
Use air conditioning (if available) and plug in vapourisers to protect your room- I need to purchase these!
I have little repellent patches my mum got me too- I have no idea how effective they are, but there is no harm in trying extra protection!
As the type 1 diabetic half of Dream Big, Travel Far, I'm passionate about encouraging fellow type 1's to travel the world and not let their diabetes hold them back. I'm proud to now be a full-time digital nomad. Meaning I live my life working and travelling all over the world and am here to help you achieve your dreams as well in any way I can.
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