Finally I have had all my jabs! Not a great experience… but there’s no way my mother would have let me leave the country if I didn’t get them all.
If there is one piece of advice I can give to future travellers at this point it would definitely be: don’t scrimp on vaccinations! I made the mistake of trawling through websites and comparing prices simply to save a few pennies! I regret that now…
The NHS covers certain vaccinations including DTP, Typhoid and Hepatitis A (see http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Travel-immunisation/Pages/Introduction.aspx). For me malaria, rabies (a course of 3 jabs) and Japanese encephalitis (a course of 2 jabs) I paid for. They are expensive… but worth it.
I found that by going through Lloyds pharmacy I could save a few quid on my rabies vaccination (brilliant!). The idea is that you order the vaccination online, pay for it, select a store and book a time with the store to get ‘jabbed’. Easy enough (actually slightly long winded but nonetheless I did it).
BIG MISTAKE! The nurse greeted me in Lloyds with the instruction booklet for rabies and told me she hadn’t done it before and wasn’t too sure how to do it. My heart rate shot up, confidence eradicated. She didn’t wear gloves throughout the procedure (which having read up on apparently is not necessary) but she did squirt some antibac gel a few times. All in all the procedure involved: 1 bent needle, 2 needle changes, 2 random nurses entering to give advice and hold the syringe, hundreds of bubbles sucked into the syringe (yes I am aware of the risks… as was she), 2 stabs in the arm… 1 of which led to another needle change and some blood running down my arm. I am not sure why I did not run for dear life, I think I was just frozen in fear.
The whole procedure ended with a patient satisfaction questionnaire (yes! hilarious given the ordeal, she did show some hesitation before giving to me) and with her telling me “well, next time will be easier I’ll know what I’m doing!”. There was no next time and I did get my money back.
So lesson learned, no more scrimping! I was later told that Boots and other pharmacy companies are jumping on the bandwagon for travel vaccinations (potentially lucrative?) and use the same system of ordering online and going in to get jabbed.
The problem is that you have no control over who is doing the procedure and the pharmacists do not have the training/support behind them. In some cases (as in mine) they are not aware the process is possible. On top of all this, if you order a course of a vaccination and for whatever reason the pharmacist is not able to complete one of them on the date you are booked in for- you could risk the vaccination being ineffective, losing your money and having to go elsewhere to re-do the course of the vaccination.
Where possible go with a travel nurse- if your GP does the travel vaccinations brilliant! Mine unfortunately did not.