It can be a minefield trying to figure out what vaccinations you need. And this is more difficult when you don’t know exactly where you’ll be travelling to.
The first thing you’ll need to check, is that your standard vaccines for life in Britain are all up to date. You can find general info on vaccinations for India on the NHS’ fit for travel site.
NHS Choices provide good information on what you can get for free and what you’ll have to pay for. Here’s the summary:
Free immunisations on the NHS
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B (only when combined with Hep A)
Private prescription needed
Your NHS nurse can administer the following vaccines, but you’ll need to order them from a chemist and take them to your appointment.
Rabies: £40 – £60 per person, per jab (you need 3)
We decided to get immunised so that we can get bitten by dogs, bats, monkeys, or cats without concern 🙂
Here’s a map showing areas at risk of rabies:
Japanese Encephalitis: £70 per person, per jab (you need 2)
We’d never heard of this one (and it’s so funny to hear Janine try and pronounce it). It’s spread through mosquitoes and prevalent around rice growing areas. The fit for travel website states that 30% of those who show symptoms of the illness, die. So we didn’t hesitate!
Total cost – £290 😮
Shop around for these vaccines! Call a selection of pharmacies and ask for a quote. Smaller, independent ones can knock off some of the commission they charge, whereas the bigger ones—Boots and Lloyds—told us they can’t.
We’ve since found out that these vaccines would have been available in India for a fraction of the price. We haven’t verified this, but could be worth investigating if money is a primary concern. Just be aware that some vaccines need time in your body before they are protective.
How quickly can you get immunised?
We had little time before we left the country, so pressed the nurse into figuring out a way to get this all done inside 6 weeks. She was really good and worked it out for us. She spread out 10 vaccinations each, with the minimum gap between multiples of the same. All within 28 days. Perfect! We just need to get boosters after 12 months for a couple of them.
Our vaccination schedule:
Malaria and dengue fever considerations
After reading a lot of scary stuff all over the internet, we got fairly concerned about the risk of malaria and dengue fever. They can be fatal. Also:
There is no vaccination for malaria or dengue fever.
The best thing you can do, is prevent mosquito bites in the first place.
We try to avoid putting anything into our bodies that isn’t natural or necessary, so antimalarial tablets are not ideal. As we could be in Asia for an extended period, it doesn’t seem a good idea to take tablets every day when they don’t actually prevent or cure malaria. All they do is lessen the effect, and you’d need to get medical attention regardless.
Our plan of action… if we go into an area of high risk, we’ll get tablets out there (from a respectable pharmacy). The risk of malaria in the areas we are initially visiting is low, so we can rest easy. As for dengue fever, prevention doesn’t exist.
We don’t want to get bitten up regardless of whether or not disease is associated. This is what we’re doing to avoid it:
- spray clothes with Lifesystems Ex4 Permethrin Treatment and try to keep skin covered
- buy mosquito repellent for exposed areas (we’ve been told you can buy natural stuff in India – we don’t fancy DEET)
- kill nearby mosquitoes before going to sleep and sleep under a net
Immune system preparations
People get ill when in India. It’s just a fact. The water is different, standards are not what we’re used to, and you have to be mindful at all times. Even expats who’ve lived there for years get unlucky sometimes.
The only thing you can do is reduce risk where you can, and keep your body in peak condition. This way, if you get a bug, your body is in a strong position to ward it off. Based on our research, this is what we’d suggest:
- Take water purifying tablets (for when we’re out there and want to drink water or wash vegetables)
- Take Raw (organic, unpasteurised, unfiltered) apple cider vinegar. A few teaspoons per day will balance the pH in your body to boost your immune capabilities. It’s also reported to give quick relief to an upset stomach as it kills bacteria. We’ll let you know!
- Cut down sugar intake (it suppresses your immune system). We’ve had 4 sugar free days per week for a month before we travel (it’s not been easy but we feel powerful!).
Got any other tips/experience to add? Hit me up in the comments