Friday, August 2, 2013


Several of us visited the travel clinic at Austin Diagnostic Clinic (ADC) for our vaccinations and medications and so far I think we have all been fairly pleased.  Here is a rundown of what most of us got:

1.  Hepatitis A/B combined vaccine - this is a three injection series with the second injection 4 weeks after the first and the third is 5 months later.  This is a good reason to get in at least 6 months before you travel for your first round of vaccines.  Cost was $135 for each round.  You are covered for 30 years for Hep A and a lifetime for Hep B after receiving the full round (3 injections).

2.  Tdap - Tetanus diphtheria and pertussis.  The pertussis part is a fairly new addition to the vaccine and strongly recommended.  I had my last tetanus in 2010 and they said if I didn't know for sure if I had pertussis included that I needed to get the whole shebang again.  Whohoo.  None of the injections hurt while receiving them, but this one makes your shoulder hurt for days afterward.  One rounded needed, $70.  Td (without pertussis) booster is recommended after 10 years.

3.  Typhoid - I chose the oral vaccination (4 days of pills if I remember correctly).  Also had the option of injection.  Oral lasts 5 years, injection lasts 2 years, both cost $80.

4.  Polio - one injection recommended.  Lasts a lifetime, cost: $45.

5.  Yellow Fever - the big question mark.  Per current CDC guidelines, yellow fever is not required to travel to Tanzania from the US (assuming you don't stop in some random places for too long on the way there).  However, there are rumors abound that the first thing they ask you for in customs is your yellow fever card.  If you don't have it, you are taken to a different place - if you have it, you continue on through customs.  No one has necessarily verified what happens in that "other place" but it is presumed you are made to get the shot there on premises.  Most of our group has elected to get the vaccine to avoid any potential issues in the airport and none of us is interested in receiving an injection of any type in Africa.  The vaccine lasts 10 years.  I'm unsure of the cost as I'm getting it next week.

1. Malaria drugs.  There are four types we received info on from ADC.  All had various use guidelines and side effects.  It is best to discuss with your medical provider which will be best for you.  I went with generic Malarone.  It was still $165 for a 26 day course.  Awesome.  You begin taking it 1-2 days before entering the region and continue through 7 days after leaving the region.

2.  Antibiotic.  I got generic Zithromax; 2 tablets as one dose to take for traveler's diarrhea if necessary.  Received 4 tablets total.  Cost $20

3.  Diamox.  I do not have the specifics on this yet as I haven't gotten my rx for it but will next week.  This drug is used for altitude.  Some people don't take it until they need it, others take it throughout the climb as "insurance."  It isn't guaranteed to work - some say it works wonders and others do not notice anything.  The #1 side effect is going to be a huge nuisance: it is a diuretic.  Awesome.  I get to pee on the side of a mountain in 10 degree weather even more often now.

Other Drugs
1.  Ambien - I did my research and found out ambien is okay for taking at altitude - hallelujah!  If I don't sleep, this whole trip will go to hell in a handbag quickly.  Apparently the camp sites can be very noisy, not to mention uncomfortable.  I have also read there are monkeys who like to jump from tent to tent at night on one of the early nights - awesome.

2.  Asthma drugs (symbicort and albuterol) - I forget I have asthma most of the time, and usually by the time I remember it is too late to do a lot for immediate relief.  However I plan to bring both drugs with me and will use as needed.  Both have been indicated as potentially beneficial/helpful at altitude.

3.  OTC drugs: immodium, pepto, advil (see first aid kit post for more listed)

4.  Supplements/Herbal remedies: Ginger has been touted as a great thing to have to combat nausea that is almost inevitable from a host of issues while climbing.  Several of the group have been trying out beet juice supplements as well and they are supposed to help with altitude.

Please leave a comment if you have anything else to add!!

UPDATE:  I was fairly pleased with ADC until it came to the rx for Diamox.  The literature they give you recommends 125mg twice a day starting 24 hours before entering altitude (7000' according to them) and continuing for 24-48 hours after reaching the highest point.  So that would mean I'd take the drug for at least 8 days.  Twice a day = 16 pills.  They gave me 7.  Seriously?  And they would not budge.  So, plan ahead and know you will have to get this from your regular dr if your travel clinic is anything like ours was.

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