Travel Clinics and My Experience

When we recently traveled to South Africa, it was suggested to us, a few couple weeks before our departure, that we might want to consider getting some anti-malaria pills.  The only location where we would have had a remote chance of getting malaria would have be in Kruger National Park.  Additionally, since it was winter in the Kruger, the chances were extremely low.  Nevertheless, since I do have an auto-immune disease I thought it was prudent to get anti-malaria medication.



We immediately called the local travel clinic to see about scheduling an appointment.  When the clinic called back they basically said that they could not help us as they would need to see us two weeks prior to our trip to begin the shots and medication regimen and they didn’t have any available appointments.  I questioned them about shots since I “knew” that all I needed was anti-malaria medication but they wouldn’t budge.  I would get no appointment and no medication from them.  Now what!


I then went to the CDC website to see what they story was.  I was able to look up country specific information again confirming that the risk was low and it would be only for Kruger.  The CDC website listed different malaria medications, the reasons why we would consider the specific ones and the reasons that we might want to avoid using some of the drugs.  Some of the medications only required us to begin taking the pills 1-2 days before we enter the area where malaria transmission could occur.  Additionally, some pills we only had to take for 7 days after leaving the area instead of 4 weeks as some meds required.

I made an appointment with my family doctor, brought the print-out from the CDC website.  She was very happy that I did bring the print-out as she didn’t have to leave the examining room to go to the website and print it out.  We went over all the medications available, the pros and cons including costs.  I walked out with my prescription.

I was very happy that I pursued this even after the travel clinic did not give me reason to pursue it.  If I had listened to them, I would have gone to South Africa without any medication since I was “late” in contacting them.  No shots were needed for this trip – only pills.

What I am trying to say is to do your homework.  You need to be responsible for your well being.  If you find that you are late like I was, go to the CDC website.  Print off their recommendations and bring it to your local doctor or clinic that you go to for medical care.  Your doctors will appreciate your bringing the information to them.

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