Relax. No one actually got shot. (Except some of the protesters, if you’ve been following the news. But don’t worry, we are safe and sound.) I’m talking about getting shots. As in needles. Immunizations, if you prefer.
Before our RTW trip, we did extensive research into required and recommended vaccinations, anti-malarials, and other health care issues. One of the vaccinations we needlessly got was Japanese encephalitis… exposure to the virus itself results from a quirky cocktail of lengthy stays in rural Asian areas, pigs, monsoons, and mosquitos – a situation we just didn’t find ourselves in.
Now, three years later, we are heading to rural Bhutan. Which is in Asia. For a year. And where there are monsoons. There are definitely mosquitos. And possibly pigs. So, we need Japanese encephalitis boosters. Which carried a $265 price tag in Canada in 2011. And this time, we don’t have Mike’s company drug plan to dull the pain of the bill.
Enter the Thai Travel Clinic… a clinic specifically designed for foreigners needing advice and vaccinations. The cost of a Japanese encephalitis shot there? Approximately $16 CAD. So we showed up in Bangkok, made an appointment for the following day (not strictly necessary, as they take walk-ins), and proceeded through the most organized, helpful, sanitary, and easy-to-use health-care system we have EVER encountered (yep, that includes Canada). Not to mention cheap.
When all was said and done, we spent 60 minutes checking in, filling out a health survey, discussing all our questions and concerns with a doctor, paying for and picking up our prescriptions and vaccines at the pharmacy, receiving our vaccines, and waiting around for 20 minutes just to make sure we didn’t have a reaction.
Everything was well-laid out, there were no waiting times, and the doctor was incredibly knowledgeable. He went through our entire vaccination record to make sure we were prepared for Bhutan, ruled out the necessity for a rabies booster, discussed the risks/benefits of taking anti-malarials (we will be located in southern Bhutan in a malaria zone… he has talked with several doctors from Bhutan and put our malaria risk at 1% or less for the year – small enough that the benefits of taking anti-malarials for such a length of time would be outweighed by the risks from long-term use of the medication). He also prescribed amoxicillin and ciprofloxacine for each of us at our request and discussed how to use them.
The cost for all this? (Note: $1 CAD = approx 30 Thai baht)
Japanese Encephalitis Vaccine – 470 baht
Full prescriptions for antibiotics – 87.50 baht
Doctor’s fee – 200 baht
Vaccination fee – 20 baht
New registration fee – 20 baht
Hospital service fee – 50 baht
Grand total – 847.50 baht per person (or approx. $28 CAD)
So, if you’re ever looking for friendly, knowledgeable travel health advice and you’re in the Bangkok area, definitely check out this travel clinic. It’ll save you a pretty penny.