I was helping out Hospice Angelus the other day when I landed on another planet. The building pictured here used to be a maternity ward in Soviet times – apparently functioning until 1991. Now it is in a pitiful state, and one cannot help but wonder which stories have been lived between these walls, and what happened to those who worked here.
Disclaimer: In the pro/anti vaccine debate, I am 100% pro-vaccine. In my mind, it’s as obvious as Enlightenment against the Middle Ages.
Now, this does not save me from the travel vaccination dilemma.
The issue being: which vaccines should I take, when, where? Sure, there is reliable advice available. But still, decision is with the patient (or their parents). The parameters to consider are many: how exposed will we be to the disease, is it serious/treatable, is there an available cure where I am…
I admit I normally tend to accept all vaccines on offer, based on my strong philosophical belief that vaccines are GOOD. But there may be some overdrive in some of the recommendations. Today I spoke to a Moldovan doctor who laughed about the idea we should all get vaccinated for rabies here – she claimed the disease is really rare in the country and vaccination is not routine for kids nor adults. I remember a similar experience in Peru ten years ago about malaria medication – the local guides told us to stop treatment asap, since it was unnecessary. Do our western authorities advice more protectively than the locals? And why is that? (A sense of superiority? Western medical consumism? A wider availability of vaccines?). I am happy we got our antirabies jab anyway in the end.
Second issue to resolve: when could we take all the different doses and boosters, without going back to the same medical centre a million times. I am getting vaccinated because I am going to travel, which means by definition I cannot go back to the same medical centre a million times. Yes I know, I should have thought about it a few months ago and planned in advance, but to be honest, in times of last-minute travels, the vaccination schedules are hard to fit in. I have found a solution by taking the next doses with me, and then finding a local doctor/nurse/neighbour to give us the shots – or otherwise I can do it myself, like we did today.
And the final part of the dilemma – the dreaded question: am I already vaccinated for this and this? Do I need a booster? I am horrified to admit that I got my first yellow vaccination booklet only a few weeks ago. No need to say that it does not include my full history, and I have only a very vague recollection of which vaccines I took 10 years ago (well, tending to just say yes to all that is proposed to me, I quickly forget which vaccines I end up getting). Not even my kids, at 3 and 6 years of age, have all their immunization history documented in one place. Is anybody developing an app for this, please?
PS. The ECDC, where I worked when I lived in Stockholm, has an online ‘vaccine scheduler’ that tracks all the different vaccination schedules in EU countries – it does not refer to travel vaccination but it is pretty awesome anyway!