Vaccinations – The ugly side of travel – Travelling with Kids

Last night you might have seen my post on Instagram about having the kids vaccinated for our upcoming trip to Vietnam. It wasn’t fun, so I thought I would provide some tips about what I learnt last night. Australians are advised to have a number of vaccinations for Vietnam but ultimately its up to the individual. We prefer to be play it safe when it comes to the kids and get the advised vaccinations.

You’re also welcome to join my South East Asia Travel Planning Facebook group – it’s a great resource for all things travel in SE Asia!

I won’t lie, I felt terrible for them and the two little ones aged 6 & 8 years we had to pin down, this of course makes it much worse as their little muscles are then tense therefore making the injection more painful. This is very difficult to explain to them, as their level of understanding stops as ‘its going to hurt’.

Advised vaccinations for Vietnam

We were always going to play it safe when it come to vaccinations for the kids, no one likes doing it but I would be much more upset if I didn’t and they come home with an extra present from our overseas trips. We were advised to have typhoid, hepatitis A & B, tetanus and cholera. We played it safe and had them all, except tetanus as they have that as a matter of course in Australia anyway.

So here are some tips that I think can help others:

1. Don’t tell them till the very last minute.

Not everything went to plan for us and we had told the kids on the way to the doctors on Thursday night what would be happening. We got the script from the doctor and when to the chemist. The chemist didn’t have them in stock. This meant that we would have to wait until the next night and also have them the opportunity to stew about it all day. If you have a child like Alannah, she was thinking about it all day long at school and of course the anxiety had started to build before we even got there.

2. Make them go in one at a time.

I think this ones a no brainer! Don’t let the other kids see whats coming. Craig is much better at anything medical than I am and he is also the strongest so it was best that he went in with them. Don’t make the mistake of going first as once they see that needle it will be ‘all over red rover’! This way you can also take a minute to wipe the tears and get the child to put a brave face on before the next one goes in!

3. Be strategic about what order they go in.

We took Alannah in first, reason being that she is the oldest and we could reason with her not to frighten the little ones when she came out. She came out with red eyes but put on a smile and told Keira and Caelan that it tickles. Caelan then went running in saying ‘I’m next’. Little did he know! You could hear him screaming from the waiting room and Keira started to believe that maybe this didn’t tickle so much. The cat was out of the bag and Caelan walked out crying and said ‘It doesn’t tickle at all Keira’. This is when the fun really started.

4. Accept the fact that you are going to have to hold them down.

This is the part I hate the most. Last night we had to hold Caelan down for the second one and the first one for Keira. Surprisingly, Keira wasn’t too bad on her second but her screaming made up for it. Its the look in their little eyes that does me in every time. This took the two of us, Craig had to hold the top half of them and I had to hold their legs so they didn’t kick the poor nurse. If it can be done without hold them down, its much better as their little arms aren’t tense and this is where the damage is done and it also makes it worse afterwards.

5. Be honest.

The line ‘it will all the worth it in the end’ doesn’t really resonate with them but its the truth so I told them. They both said at some stage that they would prefer to stay home with Nan than have the injection! Not sure Nan would be too happy about that one. The good thing is that it does sink in, Keira told her gymnastics teacher this morning, ‘it hurts loads, but it will be worth it!’

6. Have them all done at once where possible.

I said to the doctor last night once I realised that they had to have two that it might be best to do one now and one later. She looked at me wryly and said ‘do you really think they will come back?’ Good point! So we decided that a double whammy was the way to go. One in each arm. Not sure what you would do if you need to have three or more but I’m glad I didn’t have to find out at this stage.  Also another thing I am going to try and do is keep the vaccinations up to date so that we don’t have to have heaps at one time again.

7. Bribery

We all do it right? Some good old fashioned bribery never hurt anyone. Use whatever works. I would have bought them a house last night but they settled for $5 to spend at Woolies on lollies. That assisted with a quick recovery and took the focus off what had just happened. Oh and pizza for tea that helped too. We also went home and had movie night to keep them calm and quiet.

Now if thats not all enough, I have to mention it, if you think thats all bad wait until the next day! The Typhoid vaccination is very painful the day after and all three of them and myself are suffering today. I gave them panadol last night as it was painful when they went to bed. No one slept well including me and Caelan got up in the middle of the night with a very sore arm. They’re not doing much today, we have watched Harry Potter 3 and Keira went to gymnastic’s. She did ok but did struggle with the strength work.

Everyone is very tired today, we were suppose to go out for dinner but I have had to pull out. Hope my friends don’t hate me. The kids are just exhausted and Caelan looks like he is coming down with something. I too feel like I have a cold coming on but probably coincidences as it is the middle of winter in Melbourne and its probably my turn, I have managed to stay well all season. Craig on the other hand is fine and off to the footy.

The cost….. wait for it!

Finally be prepared for the bill! Last night cost us just short of $1000! Yes you read that right, the vaccinations cost us more than our return flights from Melbourne to Vietnam! If I had of known this I would have started planning earlier to spread out the costs. A friend said that we could get away without having cholera and typhoid but I wasn’t prepared to risk the health of the kids to save the dollars. Craig and I are going without the cholera, I have the scripts and if I change my mind getting closer to our departure date I will just get it done then.

While all this sounds absolutely barbaric and trust me it felt it at the time, the benefits of travelling as a family is the reward. We’ve been lucky enough to have some amazing experiences such as visiting Angkor Wat, staying in a luxury villa off the coast of Nha Trang, having Paradise 101 island in Langkawi all to ourselves for a day, snorkelling in the beautiful waters in Koh Rok off the coast of Thailand, sunrise at the Taj Mahal and visiting Disneyland Hong Kong. None of these would be possible without having the vaccinations. I think even the kids would agree that the reward is definitely worth the pain.

If any of you are able to add to my tips please leave a comment below as I’m all ears. Last night was pretty traumatic for all of us. Any tips no matter how small will be welcome.

Safe travels,







This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Sandra

    $1000? Oh. My. God. No wonder people are reluctant to vaccinate. I hope your arms are all a lot better tomorrow. We have those official little yellow international vaccination booklets. They’re very handy for remembering when you had and when. Some vaccinations, like Yellow Fever, are mandatory unless you want to spend time in forced quarantine on your return. We had to get the Yellow Fever vaccine for Peru and that was quite expensive – about $100 from memory. I’m seeing now how for a family of five the costs can add up so quickly 😮

    1. Sally

      I think it was fair to say I was speechless Sandra! LOL. The cholera vaccination which you drink and is dissolved in water cost $123 per person! Get that! I am keen to hear from people overseas and see if its just an Australian things as most things seem to be more expensive here these days. Where did you get the yellow booklet from, I remember having one years ago but I thought they mustn’t have them anymore. If they do I would be very keen to get them for us all, especially the kids. I’m actually feeling better now but I was v=feeling very dodgy today and wondered whether it was the vaccinations.

  2. Natalie

    Oh no Sal that’s awful! There goes any prospect of my family travelling to Vietnam and anywhere else that requires vaccinations- my husband is terrified of needles and so is Miss 11 (I have enough trouble trying to get her treated at the dentist). These are good tips for anyone who needs to get their kids vaccinated- I would want to know all of these things and be prepared!

    1. Craig Lucas

      Oh no, it’s all worth it in the end! Maybe you can pin hubby down too! The actual needle didn’t hurt that much, it’s the build up to it & then the next day that are worse.

  3. Anne

    Wow that is a lot of money!

    1. Sally

      Sure is Anne, I was speechless and unprepared for that.

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