One of the true delights of travelling to a developing country is the need for vaccinations. Yes, I am being a little sarcastic… did you not pick up a tone there? Actually, needles don’t really phase me that much. Just as well, really!
Of course, the list of vaccinations one needs for Ethiopia is extensive and expensive! I have been getting mine at the Travel Doctor – TMVC in Adelaide. There were several vaccinations that I could not get in my home town – there is not much call for Rabies vaccinations in rural SA, thank goodness – so it made sense to get them all done in Adelaide. So far I have had Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (thankfully all in the one injection); Hepatitis A and B, a Flu vaccine (just for fun!); Yellow Fever (essential as Ethiopia is in the endemic zone and if I can’t produce my International Vaccination Certificate, I can be forbidden entry into an infected country, or more importantly, when leaving and entering the next… such as when I want to come home!); Typhoid; and two out of the three injections required for a Rabies vaccination. Still to come is the remaining Rabies vaccination to complete the series and a Meningitis vaccination. So far vaccinations have cost me about $750. The government graciously allows a Medicare rebate of $11.55 per visit, and I believe I can make a claim on my health insurance, but I haven’t got around to that yet.
In addition I will be taking a Malaria kit with me. I am not going to be in a high-risk Malaria area very much (Addis Ababa is at altitude so Malaria is not a risk), so will only need it if I travel to an area where Malaria is prevalent and start to develop the symptoms. The idea is to self-medicate until I can get to a doctor. The other part of the idea is that prevention is better than cure, so an insect repellent containing DEET is essential, as is a chemically treated mosquito net.
Then there is the gastro kit! Even with all the care in the world, there is highly likely to be several cases of gastro in the offing! The health guide that the Travel Doctor gave me helpfully describes the difference between “common travellers diarrhoea”, giardia and dysentery! I don’t have my kit yet, so am not sure exactly what is in it, but from the health guide, it recommends that the kit includes an oral re-hydration solution; antibiotics; Loperamide, which acts as a “pharmacological cork” as a short term solution to enable you to travel if needed; and a nausea treatment. Here’s hoping I don’t need it much!
Aside from all of this, I will need to take my medications for things like headaches, colds, back pain (Heaven forbid that I hurt my back again) and a first aid kit with me in my luggage. These items can’t be posted as customs in Ethiopia automatically confiscates them. This is one area where I won’t be skimping in terms of how much I am packing! I got no less than seven colds the year I taught in the UK, thanks to having no immunity to the local bugs, so I am guessing the smorgasbord of new bugs in a school in Ethiopia will be many and varied! Yay!