Nearly all pharmacies claim to provide travel vaccines. Unfortunately, this is false in many cases and misleading in others. This is a source of huge frustration for both travelers and real travel clinics like us. Here are the issues that you can expect to run into at your local pharmacy (though you may get lucky and side-step these problems):
- Lack of expertise. Very, very few pharmacists are able to provide competent travel health advice. Does the one pharmacist who knows travel health work at your location? How will you find that pharmacist who does travel health? The website implies that travel health is available at all locations. This is simply not true. Giving bad travel health advice is harmful. Imagine going to a developing or tropical country and not having the shots you need.
- Lack of product. In many (most) cases the pharmacy does not have the vaccines you need in stock. They generally only stock routine vaccines–not travel vaccines. This means you will first have to visit, order the vaccine, then come back for at least one more visit to get your shots.
- Not available at most locations. They may imply that travel vaccines are available at all locations but that is not true in most cases. Many pharmacies will ask you to drive to the one location in the metro area that offers this service.
- Run around, waiting and hassle. Pharmacies will make you wait in line, they will make you wait on hold on the phone, and they will bounce you around to different phone numbers and locations until you find what you need.
- May require a prescription. This means that first you have to find a physician who can consult you on travel health, then you have to bring a prescription to the pharmacy in order to get your shots.
Travel clinics like Away Clinic in Arizona provide travel vaccines with zero hassle. We keep commonly used travel vaccines such as yellow fever, typhoid and Japanese encephalitis in stock at all times. There is no waiting in the lobby for your appointment, no waiting in line, and we can usually get people in the next day. We keep all travel vaccines and routine vaccines in stock at all times. Also, we have registered nurses who are highly trained and experienced in travel health who can assist you.
Photo credit: Nicholas Eckhart