Going to India poses some health risks to people from other parts of the world and some vaccinations are required, when I went to the doctors at the end of June I mentioned our trip and how we would go about getting advice, Brad, my Dr, said we would be best visiting a travel clinic or the health unit. As there was a travel clinic in the same building as his office we decided to check it out, MINT Drugs.
One day during vacation we popped in and found that we needed to make an appointment to meet with a pharmacist, which we promptly did for Tuesday August 2nd, although as a family we really need to pay attention to other activities within our household as Owen had Taekwondo that day, this was also my first day at work after vacation as well as a follow visit for Jenn to the eye Dr, so all in all a busy day.
Prior to the appointment we had been asked to go online and fill in a form togather some background info about the two of us, this included the planned trip, length of time, did we plan to be mainly be in rural or urban areas, some basic medical history etc. They told us this would save time at the appointment.
On the day of the appointment with met with Connie, one of the pharmacist at MINT Drugs, she opened up our file and presented us with a folder with detailed information about the various vaccinations and health risks that we should look at.
We suspected there would be a lot of information to take in and was glad for the booklet so we could digest at a later date.
Connie was very good and went through everything starting off with Yellow Fever which India does not have, but if you have been to a place with Yellow Fever then you need to have had the vaccination to get in, Canada is not one of those places. “Check”
Connie then went through all the various possible health issues and risk of things like Hepatitis A, Typhoid fever, Polio, Rabies, Japanese encephalitis and many more. She went on to talk about preventive vaccines or medications that we may or may not need going to India, but then talked about what was recommended for the trip we have planned.
It was recommended that we have Hepatitis A, Typhoid and take anti Malaria pills, these are started prior to the start of the trip and you take them all the way through and then for a period of time when you return, wow! The interesting note was that the anti Malaria medication was covered by our benefit plan but nothing else, strange. Some parts of India and Nepal are at a much lower risk for malaria, but as we where passing through some areas that had a higher risk we have to take the medication on a continuous basis while there.
We where also recommended to get a Tetanus shot and although the pharmacist said they could do this, there be a charge and suggested we to through the health unit as in Alberta these shots are free, this would be the cheapest part of our trip so far!!
Connie talked about Traveler’s diarrhea, the thing that is highly likely at some point, but she said there was no real medication to prevent as there where some many variants. Connie said she could give us a prescription for one variant, but that chances where so slim it would not be worth the cost, $100 per treatment. She did say we could take Pepto Bismol daily as prevention, but also said it could turn our tongue black. We decided that we would take a supply and rely on paying attention to what goes in our mouths.
As part of the “Delhi Belly” chat we covered off the Do’s and Do Nots:
- Do wash hands often with soap and purified water, aka bottled water
- Do drink only bottled water or bottled or canned pop
- Do brush teeth with only bottled water
- Do Not eat raw food such as lettuce or uncooked fruit unless it has been washed and peeled by yourself
- Do not put ice in drinks
- Do Not eat uncooked meat or seafood, eat only grilled or steaming hot well cooked meats, avoid milk and other dairy products
Pretty common sense things, and we have read this within many of the blogs and other travelers websites about going to India. We plan to pretty much be vegetarian while there, but I am sure we will be tempted by some tandoori chicken!
Jenn and I usually don’t drink pop, unless it is a mix, but we plan to forego this self imposed ban as hydration is critical to prevent us from getting sick and there could well be times when the only option is pop.
We finally chatted about timelines for the shots and agreed early December would be best, this would give us coverage for a period of time after our trip if we decided another place, similar to India, was possible. It also meant we would be recovered from any possible side effects. We will also plan to get our Tetanus shots around the same time through the health unit in Grande Prairie.
So there we have it, once we get these shots we will be covered as best as one can be for a trip to a place such as India. There will always be a risk of something, but by taking the time to understand the risks and taking advice from professionals we hope to lower those risks and have a sickness free trip and come home with just happy memories and not those of sitting on a squat toilet for three days or worse.