In the past you would go to the doctor, tell him where you were heading, roll your sleeve up, feel the prick of cold steel penetrate your upper arm, grin, bear it, and be on your way. A two-year “get out of typhoid free” pass secured in your psyche.
Well, they say no vaccination is 100% full proof but it’s the best you can do.
The next day your arm would be red and kind of aching with soreness. You felt as if someone had crept in and pummeled you during the night. For the rest of the day you would protect that arm, fending off anything that came even remotely close. It was a good soreness though, and you knew it would be over in 24 hours from which time, typhoid beware!
My recent trip to the UCSF Travel Clinic bore little resemblance to prior travel clinic visits. My sleeve remained unrolled; no needles, no surge of disease flowing through my veins; all I got was a prescription and an instruction booklet on how to pop an eight-day regimen of pills.
Typhoid vaccination comes in four capsules. To be taken every other day on an empty stomach. Once through, you have five years of protection.
On the evening of day one I was feeling fine even though tired; so went to bed. The morning of day two crashed upon me. I awoke with a sneeze, a cough, and a pounding headache. The kind of headache usually reserved for the after-effects of drinking bad spirits in a hot, humid Mediterranean island where water is unhelpful and shelter seems impossible to come by; Corfu or Ios (pronounced ee-os) spring to mind for some reason. May have something to do with a night two filled with Ouzo back in my 20’s but no need to go there right now.
By evening I literally thought my head was going to explode. I could see it happening in my mind. That night the sweats came rolling in and got soaked up by my Boulder, Colorado souvenir t-shirt as I tossed and turned; head throbbing.
The last time I can think of where my head wanted to separate from my body was when I had dengue fever. For a brief second I thought I might have re-caught the dengue bug at the travel clinic but that thought was fleeting.
I was messed up.
Day three meant another typhoid pill. Had my system gotten used to it yet or was this added infiltration of tropical bacteria just going to batter me about a little more?
I was a little concerned.
The old method of Typhoid fever immunization via injection used a dead bacteria. The pills were alive and well and looking to wreak havoc.
For the next two days I felt the internal fight going on as the typhoid vaccination was slowly getting beaten back. By day five the worst was over and the final pill made no distinguishable difference to my embattled but stronger immune system.
With all the other immunizations up to date and a tube of 34.34% deet at the ready, I can do no more. I am, once again, all set to stay healthy.