Vietnam: The Long Unknown – Vaccinations

Exactly what should you be vaccinated against before travelling to Vietnam? This blog post is for you!

Page Divider

When I watch Comic Relief they say that anti-malaria tablets are as little as a pound each. So where are these tablets?!

When I’d described the Vietnam trip to others, many people commented on getting vaccinations. So last week I called the GP, who told me I should book in to see a nurse. Today was that day. And that meant needles.

I wandered down to the Surgery just down the road, having forgotten where it actually was. I ended up on Google Maps to track the place down (not such a good sign, is it!?). I was early, yet the appointment was late. Al the while I sat overhearing a teenage girl give her opinion to her mother on why children shouldn’t have a dummy unless they’re sleeping. A conversation blatantly directed at another lady who’s 5 year old was chatting away with a dummy in her mouth. A few minutes later and I was sat with the nurse. In Room 237, of all places. (A reference to that room in The Shining).


The lovely girl chatted away, asking questions about the holiday. I’m not sure if she really was interested, or just trying to ease my mind, having seen my eyes almost pop out of my head as she placed two giant needles in front of her. She continued to chat away, and casually slipped a question into the conversation; “Can you take medication in tablet form?”. Well, yes I can. More questions followed, mainly about the weather outside (“Is it still raining?”). We chatted away a bit longer whilst she tapped away on her computer, mumbling “Vietnam… Vietnam… Hmm…”. That didn’t fill me with confidence. Upon eventually finding the answers she asked “which arm do you write with?”. I answered, and then she giggled, going on to explain that I was getting an injection in each arm anyway so she didn’t really need to know. Yea, thanks for reminding me about those two needles, both of which I’d been staring at since she pulled them out of the fridge, like a cat studying a laser dot.

After sticking me with aforementioned needles, she suggested that the third vaccine could be given as a capsules, rather than jabbing me again. This seemed fair.  And wise, considering I hadn’t eaten anything at all today and was feeling slightly sick enough. I agreed, knowing full well the other option would be Needle 3, followed by vomit and possible black-out.

Page Divider

So now I’m fully vaccinated against Typhoid fever, Hepatitis A, Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio.

What it doesn’t cover me against is stupidity, bribery and a sense of direction. These things I’ll have to deal with myself.

I was also recommended to get a hold of anti-malaria tablets. Although the nurse at the surgery could supply them, the NHS purchase them from a specialist company and as such I’d be charged a fortune for them. The nurse recommended I buy them from any pharmacist other than the NHS, as they’d likely be cheaper.

And she wasn’t wrong.

The pharmacist in the local storeo told me I needed to take one anti-malaria tablet per day, and that I’d need to start taking them 3 days before I go, and also to continue to take them for a further 7 days after the trip. This meant I needed a total of 39 anti-malaria tablets. She informed me a branded tablet would cost £2.69 per tablet. This brought the total to £104.91.

Now I’m sure when I watch Comic Relief they say that anti-malaria tablets are as little as a pound each. So where are these tablets?! The pharmacist noted my tone, and suggested a non-branded version is also available for £1.29 each. This brought the total to £50.31.

Now that’s better. Why on earth would I want to pay almost twice the price for the same thing? It’s unlikely the tiny brand logo engraved on said tablet is going to be groundbreaking stuff. Unless there’s a whole world out there I didn’t know about…

Vietnam: The Long Unknown – Being Unprepared

With Vietnam a mere seven weeks away, the fear of not being prepared keeps slapping me in the face. Quite hard. Occasionally something comes up that needs urgent attention (vaccinations and a visa off the top of my head!). With this in mind, I’ve written a list of completed tasks, and a longer list of things still to be done.

So far I’ve completed the Compulsory Basic Training “course”, as set out by the UK Government. Since this 8-hour training was completed on an automatic bike, I’ve also gone ahead and completed a “Gears Conversion” course. This course is a step up to manual bikes, which opens up our options of what we can buy when we get there.

I’ve also already purchased a helmet, gloves, waterproof jacket and trousers, and waterproof boot covers. Why not just buy a helmet there? Well, some folks have suggested that helmets bought in Vietnam might not exactly have the best safety measures, or have the best processes during their production. It seemed best to just buy a helmet over here and take it with me. Thankfully it won’t take up too much space in the rucksack (UPDATE: This was a mistake. The helmet took up 1/3 to 1/4 of my rucksack, so it ended up stuffed in a smaller backpack that went on as hand luggage).

On the other hand, still to be looked into is the following:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Get a Visa
  • Get dollars
  • Get dong
  • Unlock my phone for International use
  • Get a Vietnamese SIM card

As the days count down, it’s about time I get the rest of these things ticked off the list!