Yellow Fever, Typhoid and Malaria………………oh my!!!!!!

First off, I found the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website to be very helpful with guiding me on what are the recommended vaccines AND common things to pack to go to Ghana. Many travel vaccines are not covered by insurance and therefore you have to pay out of pocket (sigh).

This blog post is about travel vaccines (shot or pill form) that are required and recommended for travel to Ghana. The short version of the story is only the Yellow Fever vaccination is REQUIRED for travel to Ghana. Do the Ghanaian immigration officials check that you received the vaccine? I had read it’s a 50/50 chance. My International Certificate of Vaccination Prophylaxis (basically a yellow index card shaped shot record) was not closely checked. But I did not want to risk not being allowed admittance due to not having this vaccination.

The Yellow Fever vaccination is recommended for travelers to Africa and South America. It is recommended for individuals over 9 months old. The yellow fever vaccine was the most challenging vaccine to find. That was in large part to the fact that the shot is/has been on backorder for months. Prior to be traveling to Ghana in February, the vaccine backorder was projected to the middle of the year. Upon checking the CDC website while typing this post, now the vaccine is expected to be available by the end of 2018 by the manufacturer!!! Most pharmacies no longer have a supply of this vaccine. I had no problem making an appointment for a travel clinic. The problem with a travel clinic is that they are super expensive. They charge a $75 fee for the visit AND charge for each shot received. I called numerous drugstores. I requested the list of Giant (grocery store) pharmacies in my area with the addresses, phone numbers and projected Yellow Fever vaccinations available (most had none but a few had 1 or 2 listed). I called at least a half dozen pharmacies. I finally found a pharmacy an hour and a half away from my home!! The reason I took this drive is because I would have paid OVER $300 dollars at the travel clinic for just the visit and a Yellow Fever vaccine. I paid approximately $160 (discounted price from about $190) at the Giant pharmacy. The pharmacist administered the shot.

The CDC also recommends for MOST travelers to receive the Hepatitis A vaccine, Malaria and Typhoid vaccines. The Hepatitis A and the Typhoid are acquired by contaminated food. Malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes. I was traveling to the Ghana during the dry season but again I did not want to take any chances. On the bright side, I did not receive ANY mosquito bites on my trip. I regularly applied repellent and sunblock each day. I was able to receive the Hepatitis A and Tetanus booster from my primary care doctor. She also called in prescriptions for the Typhoid pills and antibiotics (for possible Traveler’s diarrhea and a UTI). The Typhoid pills come in a four pack and you must keep it refrigerated. This is vaccine cost was about $90 for those four pills. You take them every other day and you are recommended to take them 1-2 weeks PRIOR to your trip. Thank God the Malaria pills were cheap!!!! We started those pills a week prior to travel and continued a week after we returned.

I mentioned the over the counter medication CDC list. It was very HELPFUL!! I acquired a mild case of Traveler’s Diarrhea after being very adventurous my first few days (eating out a lot AND eating raw veggies, e.g. salad). I was not use to the unfiltered water and therefore I had a mild case of diarrhea. My over the counter anti-diarrhea mediation was helpful. I did not get to the point where I needed to take the antibiotics for the Traveler’s diarrhea but I was glad I had it on hand.

I was a little overwhelmed by this process. I hope this information can be useful for someone else. Moral of this story, PLAN AHEAD!!!!

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