Immunizations for travel are one more thing that are not “free” on the Canadian medical system. Or at least, the version in BC. Fortunately for me, IBM is covering the cost.
The recommended list for India is quite long. Rabies was on the list, but as that series of jabs costs $900 and I’d have to pay up front, I chose not to take it. The doctor said that he didn’t consider it vital, but he did say that if dogs or monkeys or other creatures want the food I’m eating, I am to just give it to them. If I “fight them for it”, that’s when I could get bitten. Though my understanding of animals with rabies is that they’re not looking for food; they’re sick and the rabies makes them much more aggressive than they would normally be. So an animal with rabies just bites you if you get “in its way”, and in it’s way could mean just “anytime you get close”. Still, I’ll follow his suggestions anyway. They may not protect against rabies, but who needs to get bitten in the first place?
Anyway, the immunizations that I am getting are:
Hepatitus B is also recommended, but I was vaccinated for that years ago and it’s permanent
Polio booster (hey, did you know that adults should get booster vaccinations? I kinda did, but I didn’t really pay attention to it. Bad Deanna.)
Measles/Mumps/Rubella booster (ohnoez I will get the autisms. Except that I’m not an anti-vaxer and I recognize that vaccinations have nothing to do with being on the Austism Spectrum)
Cholera (Anyone who has read their history knows that cholera was not a pretty death, and it’s one of the reasons that a significant number of the senior citizens you know probably still boil their water before drinking.)
E-Coli immunization (won’t protect against all the possible variants of things that are likely to give me “Delhi Belly”, but 80% is a lot better than 0%)
Anti-malarial pills (not an immunization per se, but I’ll be popping one every day of my trip)
Along with the vaccination jabs, my travel doctor (Dr. Johnson @the Shelbourne Travel Clinic in Victoria) gave me a long talk on the Do’s and Don’ts of Travel in India. Here’s some highlights:
- Don’t touch your face. (This will be so hard. I’m always rubbing my eyes or nose and everything gets itchy if I think about not touching my face.)
- Always carry hand sanitizer. Use it like you are a germophobe with OCD. (Yes, hand sanitizer is terrible for many reasons. Use it anyway.)
- Shower with your eyes and mouth closed. Dry those areas first.
- Only drink from sealed water bottles. If they are wet from sitting in ice, dry them off first, and wipe the top with hand sanitizer.
- No ice cream or cold drinks that aren’t from a sealed container.
- No salads
- No fruit you didn’t wash in bottled water and peel yourself.
- Everything served to you as food or drink should be steaming hot. You can let it cool, but you need to know that it was very hot recently.
- Go ahead and eat from food carts/stands. Just insist on fresh, hot food – deep fried is best – and only use disposable plates and cutlery, not something they have previously washed. (Only time I’ve ever had a doctor tell me deep-fried was best.)
- Use bottled water to brush your teeth.
- Be very, very stringent about the rules for at least 2 days. Then watch the people you are with. If they seem to be getting sick, stick to the rules. If not, you may be able to relax a bit. Yes, they are your guinea pigs.