Relying on GP advice can be a hit-and-miss affair, as the case studies below show. If you're travelling to remote parts of the globe, the expertise of travel clinics could be a safer bet.
Shopping around saves $500
Getting the right jabs before you go can cause more than just a sore arm. CHOICE staffer Christine recently faced a round of costly vaccinations before heading off for an eight-week trip to Turkey, Egypt, Senegal and Tanzania.
Her GP told her “you find out what you need and I’ll give you the shots”. She went to a travel clinic to get the lowdown and decided to have the vaccinations done there. Not only were they certified to give yellow fever shots, they also gave some sound advice. “They knew what was important, and what I might not need for each country,” Christine says. In addition to yellow fever, her vaccine regimen could have included typhoid, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, tetanus, polio, whooping cough, malaria, rabies and meningococcal meningitis – at a cost of $1000 or more.
After discussion, Christine decided she could skip the $300 rabies shot. “It was a case of exercising good judgment when you come up against dogs, cats and bats.” And she confirmed she was still covered for hepatitis A from previous vaccinations. The clinic explained hepatitis B was a judgment call, but Christine decided to play it safe. However, she passed on the meningococcal jab when it was pointed out she was in a very low-risk demographic. Christine reckons she saved about $500 thanks to good practical advice. She claimed on Medicare for the consultation and her private health insurer for the shots.
Shot in the dark
Pat King was about a month out from his trip to Colombia when he started looking into the vaccinations he'd need. His trip would involve travel to remote islands and farming communities, so he was anxious to be fully protected from all the possible diseases. First stop was his local GP, where he was given a typhoid and rabies shot - both of which he was issued a script for and had to purchase from a nearby chemist. No repeat scripts were issued.
As he was unable to get the mandatory yellow fever shot from his GP, he ended up at a specialised travel clinic. "When I spoke to the doctor there he told me the rabies shot I'd got from my GP required two more follow-up shots in order for me to be fully immunised, and there wasn't enough time left before I'd go to have these," says Pat. "I believe it was an honest mistake on my GP's part, but it was about $100 down the drain." Having learnt from his experience, next time he concedes he'll be investigating what shots he needs much earlier.