What is a Travel Medicine Clinic?
Travel medicine is devoted to the health of travelers who visit foreign countries. It is a complex specialty concerned not only with the prevention of infectious diseases during travel but also with personal safety and the prevention of environmental risk. It differs from tropical medicine because it focuses primarily on pre-travel preventative care of persons and less on the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses acquired while traveling.
Travel medicine standards are increasing at a rapid rate. Most travel medicine care should be performed in a specialized travel clinic by persons who have training and expertise in the field, particularly for travelers who have complex itineraries or special health needs.
I hate shots. Will the shots hurt?
No one likes shots. However, shots that are given for pre-travel immunization are generally no more painful (and no less painful) than a typical flu shot. If you require any specialized immunizations which may have unusual or different side effects, these will always be discussed in advance for your complete information.
Will I have very many side effects to the vaccines I receive?
Most vaccines have a similar side effect profile. Minimal pain at the injection site and possibly a 1-2 degree elevation of body temperature are common. Side effects usually last only a few days and are usually managed with Tylenol. If any of the vaccines which are recommended for your travel are associated with unusual or severe side effects, these will be discussed in detail before you authorize us to administer them.
How soon can I be seen? I am leaving tomorrow!
It is always recommended that pre-travel consultation, immunization, and discussion occurs as far in advance as possible. However, we understand that emergencies do occur. We will deal with each emergency on an individual basis, and if necessary can make arrangements for the continuation of your travel care to be completed even after you leave for your trip.
How much does a travel consultation cost?
The price for a basic travel consultation is $60. The cost of the consultation will be split between travelers that come to the clinic at the same visit. The vaccines are priced separately. If you need a booster for travel, school or work, you will not be charged a consultation, just the price of the vaccine.
What happens at the travel clinic?
Typically, patients are seen first in consultation to review the travel itinerary. The recommendations for pre-travel medicine are individualized and specialized depending upon your travel plans. The location of travel determines the need for immunizations, medications, and other environmental protective measures. In addition, the United States Department of Justice frequently has advisories for travel to certain parts of the world, and our travel clinic will provide you with the latest information from the USDOS, as well as the World Health Organization.
Can you give me the exact list of shots that I need for my travel?
Absolutely. As part of the consultation service in our travel clinic, we will review with you in a step-by-step fashion your travel itinerary. All information is coordinated by a computer database that receives information on a regular basis from the United States Department of State, CDC, and World Health Organization. From your travel itinerary, we will be very specific regarding which immunizations and medications are both required and recommended for your safety.
Is there any place I can get the shots more cheaply?
The costs of vaccines at travel clinics vary depending upon typical operating costs of overhead, taxes, and inventory expenses. In general, we do not have information regarding prices that are charged elsewhere.
Will my insurance cover the cost of your services?
Health plans vary in what they cover. We are not contracted with any insurance plans and ask for payment at the time of your visit. We accept credit cards, checks, and cash. A statement will be provided that can be submitted to your insurance provider for possible reimbursement.
Can I get my shots from my primary care physician?
Many times yes. Some shots that are given for pre-travel preventative care may comfortably be given by your primary care physician. Others may not be offered by your physician and may require the services of a specialized travel care clinic. We always recommend consulting with your primary care physician so that he/she will know everything about your care and be able to coordinate all aspects of your healthcare. Primary care physicians frequently refer patients to travel clinics for specialized services just as they do other specialists. We will work very closely with your primary physician, including providing any travel clinic records which you wish for us to send to your doctor.
Why are the shots so expensive?
In the United States, adverse reactions of vaccines are generally recorded and managed by the Federal government (FDA). Vaccine manufacturers have to pay into a government fund for vaccine research, vaccine safety, and recording of adverse reactions. This expense to the vaccine manufacturers for research and follow-up is the main reason for rising costs.
Is it okay to receive many vaccines in one day?
There is a lot of scientific information on which vaccines can be given simultaneously. On occasion, people may receive four or five different shots in one day. Usually, however, only two or three shots are necessary at a single visit.
Are shots always required?
Travel immunizations are divided into two large categories, required and recommended. Required immunizations are necessary for entry into certain countries. Currently, only yellow fever is a required vaccine. For countries requiring documentation of yellow fever immunization prior to entry, we provide a World Health Organization document which is certified by our licensed yellow fever vaccine center. This specialized pre-printed document is accepted by all countries in the world.
Most other shots and medications represent “recommendations” for the health and safety of your travel. Recommendations come from the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control in the United States, and scientific information regarding outbreaks in selected countries. Our role as a travel medicine specialist is to make you aware of these recommendations and to discuss with you the importance and rationale for each recommended medicine.