The sneaky medical costs of The Big Trip (part 1?)
Protective measures to make sure that, in case of disease, you remain alive to brag about a massive exciting trip long after you get home, are kind of a big deal. I knew this when I decided that for my 30th, Africa was going to be The Trip. And I knew there would be costs. But man. MAN…
Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I am a lady who plans. A lot. And loves to do so. So I don’t know why I didn’t do more extensive research on the number of immunisations I’d need and their prices. It’s something I would do! It’s something I would probably bizarrely enjoy!
But I didn’t. I just kind of figured that what wasn’t covered by the NHS would be reasonable. I suppose ‘reasonable’ in my brain was ‘under £20 per disease’.
But oh no. Let me tell you.
I have to cover myself on the following:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Yellow Fever
Plus a well-stocked personal first-aid kit. Luckily, the NHS covers the Tetanus, Polio, Diphtheria booster, the Typhoid, and the Hep A vaccine.
The rest combined are going to cost somewhere in the region of £250-£350. I had a long weekend in Gothenburg for that much!
Today I found out that I did need the full series of Hep B again along with the rest, because the last time I had it was way too long ago. This started an anxiety-fest, not even because of the money but because of the MILLION appointments I’m going to have over the next month to get all of these things, and the logistics of getting everything in the right place and at the right time and still being at work when I’m supposed to be. Because it’s pretty much impossible to get it condensed sensibly.
OF COURSE all of this is absolutely, 100% worth it. It’s a privilege to take a trip like this, and I want to make sure, as far as I can, that I’m not sitting there worrying about the possibility of being really, really sick (or dead) just because I wanted to go look at rhinos. (Rhinos!)
So I am not cutting corners. Especially after learning that the fatality rate of rabies is 100%. One. Hundred. Percent. THERE IS NO CURE. (Which I learned when listening to this episode of Radiolab, before I even decided to go to Africa.) The vaccine doesn’t even protect you completely, it just gives you more time to get sorted out if you do get a bite. Given those numbers, I would like that time if I should need it. Credit card bill be damned.
I just reeeeally wish I had priced all this properly before charging into it. It’s rare in my life, but: Not enough planning!
Anyway I will report on the final cost when I’ve finished it all, because hopefully it’ll help someone else out.
I’d also be interested to hear what it costs in other countries, particularly the US, to get a similar barrage of jabs. What does insurance cover and not cover? Does Obamacare want to make sure you don’t get Yellow Fever while tromping around viewing zebras? Or are you at the mercy of the free market?