Lots of people wonder which shots are necessary for Ethiopia. Most people will need to an international immunization nurse to get shots for Ethiopia. Check with your county health department to find out where the international travel nurse is located in your area.
Keep in mind that most insurance companies view international travel as optional and will not cover the cost for most international vaccines. If you get the full complement of recommended shots, you can come away with a bill of $500 or more.
John and I talked over our options ahead of time, and so he already had an idea of which shots he wanted to get. The nurse that we talked with was very helpful. She said that nothing is absolutely required. But then she went on to recommend several things. After talking with her for quite a while, John opted to get three vaccines:
- Hepatitis A
He’ll need a booster in 6-12 months for lifelong immunity, but the nurse said that even the one shot should provide him with 90% immunity for several months.
- MMR booster
Combined with his childhood shots he should now have lifelong immunity. The nurse warned that some people develop a low-grade fever and aches a week or two after having this shot.
This shot was the inactive version, since the active polio has a small but real risk of giving a person polio. Coupled with what John had as a child this should give lifelong immunity.
Since John is a health care worker, he’d already had the Hepatitis B series of shots. And since he’d stepped on a nail in 2004, he was also up-to-date on his tetanus. Both of these are recommended for Ethiopia.
He opted not to get the typhoid shot. The nurse talked over food safety precautions with us. Since we are not traveling outside Addis (elevation 8,000 feet), John also opted not to get the yellow fever vaccine. it is unlikely we will be exposed to malaria in Addis. She reminded us, however, that mosquito repellant is still wise, since there are a few mosquitos in Addis. She suggested that we look for a cream repellant since in her understanding aerosol cans are no longer allowed on airplanes, even in checked luggage. (Can anyone confirm this?) You can also get a mosquito spray to spray onto clothing to ward off mosquitos. We found it at REI.
Since John only ended up getting three shots, he only ended up paying $120, a reasonable amount of money to invest in being a little safer on our trip to Ethiopia. After talking to the nurse, we also had a clear idea of what we’ll need to do to protect our two year old who is traveling with us to Ethiopia. Since she is up to date on all recommended shots for children her age, the only thing she needs is the Hepatitis A shot. Along with sensible food safety and mosquito precautions, we should all be in good shape to have a safe trip to Addis.