Travelling from little New Zealand, I've generally only hit up well established first world countries that have brilliant health systems and hardly any life threatening diseases. Which is to say that I haven't had to be vaccinated for anything more than what I was vaccinated for as a child. Well, all of that has changed with Kili. For a start, we're hitting up Zanzibar after, and to get into Zanzibar you need a certificate (!) that you've been vaccinated against Yellow Fever.
I actually had no idea what Yellow Fever was (other than, obviously, you turn yellow with jaundice, thus the name) so I looked it up. And woah buddy. You get bit by a mosquito, and then for about a week you feel like you've got the flu. Feverish, vomiting, headaches, sore muscles etc etc etc. If you're lucky you get better and go on like it was no big thing. 15% of people aren't so lucky, and things get pretty toxic. Literally. Your liver get's all damaged, so you turn yellow. You get a pretty terrible fever, and then the bleeding happens. In your eyes, in your mouth, and in your stomach. And then you start vomiting blood. Awesome.
For the people who get to the toxic stage, about 20% of them die. Okay, I feel like that's a big number, so put in perspective, of all the people that get Yellow Fever, the death rate is about 3%. Woah buddy. If you're lucky and you get to a hospital, turns out there's no causative cure, they can only treat the symptoms. Nice. There's also the problem that in first stage, you think you've got the flu, so you take some paracetamol and power through. Except that paracetamol is an anticoagulant, and if you get to stage two with all the bleeding? An anticoagulant is pretty much the last thing you want to be taking for this disease with no causative cure. Woah. Buddy.
So yeah, I got vaccinated for Yellow Fever.
I also got Twinrix (against hep a + hep b) which is a three course vaccination. I got Rabies, also a three course vaccination. Here's the interesting thing, though. It's actually a five course vaccination, and if you get bitten, it gives you more time to get to a hospital to get the last two courses. Turns out rabies is also pretty terrible. It's not so bad, because depending on how far through the symptoms you get, you can get the vaccination and be fine. If you're not fine, you're looking at host of fun time symptoms. Highlights include paralysis, confusion, abnormal behaviour, paranoia, terror, and hallucinations, progressing to delirium. And then death about 2-10 days after the bite, depending on how bad the bite was.
So yup, I definitely got the first three rounds of Rabies too.
I also got Typhoid (which sounds horrible, but apparently not so fatal now that we've figured out fun time drugs to help out). Tetanus, too. I didn't realise tetanus was predominately terrible muscles spasms. Also, apparently tetanus is not really caused by rusty nails, as the rumor goes. It more that rusty nails are probably outside or in places where the tetanus bacteria hangs out. But rust doesn't cause tetanus, it's just a nice place for tetanus bacteria to hang out. Added bonus for the disease, if you stand on the nail it punctures the skin and deposits the bacteria nice and deep into your body.
Then I'm going to get Diptheria + Polio too. Just to be safe. And I got a prescription for the prevention of Cholera, and will get one for Malaria (where I hear Malerone is much better than doxy, just fyi). I'm also probs going to get Diamox to hopefully help me get up the mountain with worrying about AMS. Because seriously? I would be bummed if I couldn't summit. The only real problem is that Diamox is apparently a diuretic. And it's not like as I'm climbing there will be facilities dotted up the trail for me to stop at, right? Still, I'll take summiting over worrying about where I'm going to pee.
Alright, how about a break down? For anyone doing kili wondering about what to get, here is what I got vaccinated against (over three visits spread over 6 weeks):
First Visit Twinrix (Hep a + Hep b) 1 Rabies 1 Yellow Fever
None of this hurt. There was talk that I might get flu like symptoms, but I was fine.
Second Visit Rabies 2 Typhoid Prescription for Cholera
Typhoid hurt like a bitch. I couldn't raise my arm for a day or two after, and it felt like I had a dead arm. Rubbish.
Third Visit Rabies 3 Twinrix 2 Tetanus Diptheria Polio Prescriptions for Malaria (Malerone not doxy) + Diamox (for AMS)
This is happening next week. I'm hoping it'll be fine! Wish me luck. It's a lot more shots than the other two visits.
Cost wise, here in good old England with their lovely NHS, everything was covered bar Rabies (3x £45 a pop) and Yellow Fever (£50 for the one shot). I got prescriptions for Cholera, Malaria + Diamox, where I'm sure I'll have to pay ridiculous amounts to a pharmacist in Swiss Cottage. But you know what? It seems stupid not to pay the excessive amounts for the peace of mind of 'I'm covered'. If I get out there and got sick with something I could have prevented by paying out a few quid, I'd be kicking myself. Better be safe than sorry, you know?
I do wonder what I'm doing to my body, putting all of these drugs and things into my system. At the same time I've spent a fair chunk of time reading up on all these diseases. The symptoms, the cures (if there are any), preventions, and death rates. A lot of them have higher death rates than I expected. I'm not taking the chance. Vaccinations it is!
Have any of you guys had a ridiculous run of vaccinations? Are you guys pro vaccinations? Thoughts?