Saturday, October 28, 2006

Got my shots

Well I got my shots this afternoon. The clinic I got them at ran a looping video detailing all the viruses of the world, how they are transmitted and their effects (without vaccination). I forgot to tell them that this wasn't exactly calming for clientèle like myself who arrive into the office with fear that the vaccines themselves will infect me with the diseases I'm trying to prevent.

I had an irrational and completely uninformed fear (the best kind of fear, no?) about what was going into my body. I only got two live vaccines: Yellow fever and a combo shot that is the standard thing you get when you're in high school. One of the downsides of dropping out of high school was not being vaccinated as a teenager.

So I've been vaccinated for Tetanus, Diptheria, Polio, Measles/rubeola, Hep A, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, and Meningococcal meningitis.. A lot of shots for one day.

In addition to the vaccinations, I was prescribed Malarone, (anti Malaria drug that is a bit more costly but apparently has less side effects) and Cipro (an anti-biotic that I had only heard of from the Anthrax scare).

The vaccinations cost me $310 (including the consult fee) and while I haven't picked up the drugs yet, I expect that the drugs will cost over $200 to cover me while I am there. Malarone I know is $5 per pill. As it is at the end of the month, I found myself gulping at the drain on our bank account for these drugs. While this may sound like trite, (somewhat like the old 'eat all your dinner. There are starving kids in the world), I found myself for the first time seriously thinking about the costs of preventative medicine. If I'm in Vancouver and getting vaccinated for a two week trip now means we'll be eating mac & cheese until the end of the month, how in the hell are these vaccines afforded in the 3rd world?

I suppose this revelation reveals my naivety and how little I actually know about the issues in Africa (a realization becoming more and more apparent). The Gates Foundation has funded the development of a promising vaccine RTS, S but there is still at least 5 years of trials and work left to be done.

One thing that Millennium Promise has been involved in advocating is the simple access to insecticide-treated bed-nets (which cost about $10 per net and last up to 5 years) can save lives. Several campaigns are underway to promote the bed-nets and I love the simplicity of the campaign.

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