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Traveling can be expensive. Plane tickets already don’t come cheap (unless you’re well versed in the art of finding cheap flights). Add in things like accommodation, the right gear, and money to spend once you actually get where you’re going, and it’s no wonder some people save all year for a major trip.
If you’re traveling to a new country for the first time or just the first time in awhile, vaccines can make a massive dent in your travel budget. We experienced this first hand as we got ready to move to Thailand but were able to save over $700 on travel vaccines by getting vaccinated after we arrived in Chiang Mai and could have saved even more had we known about this sooner.
Before we continue, let’s get this out of the way. I am not a medical professional and this is not medical advice. This post is based on my personal experiences. I still advise that you do your research, check with your doctor, and get your essential vaccines before leaving your home country. Caveat Emptor and all that.
In addition to your routine vaccinations, the CDC also advises the following for those traveling to Thailand (including average prices in the United States):
Hepatitis A: $60 – $180
Typhoid: $80 – $300
Hepatitis B: $40 – $120
Japanese Encephalitis: $435 – $1,070
Malaria: $50 – $200
Rabies: $500 – $1000
Of course, these prices vary in America. Many routine vaccines are often covered by insurance. In my experience, however, travel vaccines are very rarely covered by insurance and are of course the most expensive. Prices also depend on what kind of services are available in your area. In addition, many travel clinics charge a consultation fee, as well as a cost to administer a vaccine. As you can see, the charges just keep stacking up!
Before moving overseas, I figured living in a city as large as Philadelphia would be a huge benefit when looking for travel vaccine options. Unfortunately, I ended up having only 2 real choices and their prices ended up being pretty similar (on the high end of the prices listed above).
Because I already had all of my routine vaccines as well as a few other vaccines from previous travels, I only needed Typhoid and a Tdap booster. It was also recommended that I get the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine because I planned on spending time in rural areas, doing things like sleeping on a rice farm in the mountains, where the disease could be spread by mosquitoes.
Fortunately, the Tdap booster was completely covered by my insurance at the time. The Typhoid and Japanese Encephalitis vaccine were not. The Typhoid vaccine cost me $100 for the oral version. The Japanese Encephalitis vaccine was a different story, though. The best price I could find in Philadelphia was $350 per dose and it required 2 doses. So after a consultation, 2 shot administration fees, and 2 injections, I was looking at a bill for well over $700.
The doctor at the travel clinic understood my not wanting to pay that much for a vaccine that the CDC only recommends for “some travelers” and told me I could skip it if I’d like. For better or for worse, I did exactly that and decided not to get the Japanese Encephalitis vaccine.
I have to say that after speaking to a doctor here in Chiang Mai, I learned that the vaccine is highly recommended here in northern Thailand and that its given to Thai children as young as one years old as a part of their routine vaccines.
Shortly after arriving in Chiang Mai, I found myself in a medical clinic, which came highly recommended by other expats. While I was there, I realized this was the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the fact that travel vaccinations are significantly cheaper – and are often the same vaccine – here in Thailand. I made a follow up appointment at CM Mediclinic and got my Japanese Encephalitis vaccine for 950 THB (or $28 USD). The vaccine I received is the same one they administer throughout Southeast Asia and Australia. An added bonus is that this vaccine only requires one dose, as opposed to the 2 dose vaccine used in the States.
And the Typhoid Vaccine I paid over $100 for in the States? It was a mere 900 baht (or $27 USD). *sigh*
Dr. Hawkins at CM Mediclinic was great. She is very knowledgeable and kindly answered every question I had (of which there were many). She offers a ton of other travel vaccines at her clinic, including Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Rabies. Below is a list of vaccines available at CM Mediclinic. The prices are for a single dose and are listed in Thai Baht.
As I said, I still believe in getting vaccines before you travel. But if you’re like me and can afford to wait for a vaccine that is considered optional or is for a disease with a lower risk, it is almost certainly worth looking into what you can find at your destination.
We are a couple that travels the world full time while running our own online businesses. We want to be your one stop shop for a location independent lifestyle full of travel inspiration and useful tools and knowledge to grow your own online business.