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Hit me with your best shot: international travel vaccinations | Travels With Carly

Hit Me With Your Best Shot: International Travel Vaccinations

A few weeks ago I was in my home town of Canton, Ohio, catching up with my high school girl friends Stephanie, Christy and Julie. We all reconnected a few years ago thanks to the miracle of Facebook. While we sipped tea and knoshed on finger sandwiches and pastries at the First Ladies Tea Room, I updated my friends on my travel plans. As luck would have it, two of them are nurses.

Now, you need to be careful when discussing adventure travel with medical professionals because they always tell you the most fascinating stories. Actually, fascinating might be too euphemistic an adjective. Nasty or disturbing or outright grotesque might be more appropriate. At one point Christy chuckled. “Don’t worry. We can fix whatever you come back with. There is a tube for every orifice.”

A tube for every orifice? Eeeewwww. That’s one travel experience I can do without. So as soon as I got back to Chicago, I made an appointment to get my vaccinations in order.

Today I went to get shot up against everything I could possibly think of.  I wanted to start the vaccinations now so that my body had time to kick-in the immune response prior to my trip.  The fantastic RN Tim Doyle at the Northwestern Travel Clinic guided me through a computer program where we listed out all of my travel destinations and the computer spit back the shots required.  After reviewing all of my current vaccinations, Tim shot me up with:


  • Meningocacal vaccine
  • Typhoid vaccine
  • Yellow fever vaccine
  • H1N1 flu vaccine
  • A year supply of malaria pills




Plus Tim thoughtfully provided me with enough documentation about really freaky third world diseases to write a script for Fringe.  Did you know there is a food-born toxin called Ciguatera poisoning that can cause symptoms mimicking multiple sclerosis?  As a bonus, symptoms can last for up to 20 years.  No need to engage in high risk behavior for that particular disease. All you have to do is eat white fish in Australia and the South Pacific, particularly Grouper and Snapper.  WHITE FISH.  The RSTL&E of the seafood world.

Apparently in Northern Australia the locals look for signs that a fish is toxic.  Method 1, flies won’t land on the fish.  Method 2, cats will get sick after eating the fish.  Method 3 (and my personal favorite), put a silver coin under the fish scales and the coin will turn black.  Comforting, but at least the cat doesn’t die in that scenario.

Despite the fact that Tim scared the bejesus out of me, he thought my trip was a great idea.  Turns out he is seeing a lot of people who got laid off and figured now was the time to travel.  It is all about turning lemons into lemonade my friends. Lemons into lemonade.

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