Today I went to a travel clinic in Prague. I wanted to get immunized against Hepatitis A. In some of the countries I plan on visiting soon it’s possible to catch Hepatitis A from food and water. It’s a dangerous disease so I’ve been wanting to sort this out for a while. Two things have slowed the process down. Firstly, I hate needles. Secondly, I had no idea of the correct way to proceed.
In England, when I went to get my tetanus booster shot, it always hurt. ALWAYS! Why this should bother me I don’t know. When I used to do martial arts I got bruised ribs, damaged fingers, and a snapped tooth. I could handle that and just about anything else that life has thrown at me, but the idea of people sticking needles in my flesh bothers the hell out of me. If I have to have an injection I want it to be pain-free and in England it never was.
The last time I had a tetanus booster was earlier this year, while I was living in the Netherlands. I asked the nurse to be gentle with me, looked away, began concentrating on my breathing and waited for the stabbing sensation that was sure to come. It seemed to be a long time coming, then the nurse said, “Dat was het.” She’d delivered the shot and I never felt a thing. I couldn’t believe it and I told her so. She said it was a very thin needle. Why can’t they have those in the UK?
After I left the Netherlands, I began checking out the pros and cons of visiting certain countries and discovered a Hepatitis A shot was recommended for a lot of the places I want to go. I was in Portugal at the time and thought the needles used there would probably be larger than those in the UK. I put it off but tried to arrange a shot in Spain. I visited a couple of Hospitals in Granada and asked if I could pay for a Hepatitis A injection. The first one turned out to be a private hospital and they wouldn’t do it. The second one I tried was a state-run hospital and they said they could do it, but I bottled out instead of returning.
I consider Germany to be a very advanced country and expected things would be similar there to the way they are in the Netherlands so it was a hot possibility. It was about this time that I read an interesting article on one of my favourite travel blogs and discovered there are travel clinics that specialize in providing pre-travel shots. Unfortunately, there are no travel clinics in Duisburg and when I inquired about arranging a shot at the local hospital, it seemed like it would be more difficult than I wanted it to be. By this point, I already knew I was going to Prague and did a google search for “travel clinic in Prague”. I found three.
I also found a Wikipedia article about the Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI). It’s a comparison of European health care systems based on waiting times, results, and generosity. The UK does not rank well. In 2016 it was in 15th place and the Netherlands was ranked no.1. That did not come as a surprise, but I was shocked to see Portugal is ranked one place higher than the UK. The Czech Republic is one place higher still. This gave me hope for a pain-free injection. So, while I was still in Germany (ranked no.7 on the EHCI), I decided to arrange to get a Hepatitis A vaccination at a travel clinic in Prague. I rang them yesterday and they agreed to see me today. I was nervous as hell, but all I felt was a tiny pricking sensation. That was it. No fuss, no worries, and no pain. Much better than the UK. Probably a lot cheaper as well. My Hepatitis A vaccination cost 1350 CZK. That’s just €52. Cheap as chips!
According to the information I was given. I will need a second shot in 6-18 months and then I will be protected for life. When the time comes, I will probably return to the same travel clinic in Prague or make a flying visit to the Netherlands and get the vaccination sorted out there.
If you are passing through Prague and need to get an immunization sorted out for an upcoming trip, you can find out how to arrange it (in English) on this website. The site also provides the addresses of two travel clinics in Prague (within walking distance of the train station) and several travel clinics in nearby cities. If you make an appointment, remember to take your passport with you, you will need it. If you need a good online resource to supply you with information about the vaccinations that are recommended for specific destinations, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is a good place to start.
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