29 January 2019

Renewing my Vaccines

For several weeks during the last quarter of 2018, I was in and out of my General Practitioner's office. Not because I was sick or anything, but because I needed to renew my shots. As I was travelling to rural Southeast Asia, I figured it was a good idea to get boosters for the vaccines that I have received, as well as get some new ones, especially those that are applicable to our destination. And in this process, I learned more about the German medical system.

See, the easy solution is to go to a travel clinic, where there are doctors that would advise you on what vaccines you would want to get depending on your destination. And right there and then, assuming the vaccines that you want are available, you can then get them by paying out of pocket. However, there's a wiser method, albeit a little bit more complicated.

We got the advice from a travel clinic, as well as by reading about our destination. From there we made a shortlist of what shots we were interested in, and then we went to our GP and explained to him that we were interested in getting these shots. I wanted shots for Hepatitis (several versions), diphtheria and tetanus, MMR, typhoid fever, Japanese encephalitis, and rabies. Some of these I already have, and I just wanted a booster. I think Japanese encephalitis and rabies are the only ones that were new to the list. And since the last time I did a massive vaccination program was in 2007 when I went to South America, I figured it was time.

Our GP issued us a prescription for these vaccines, which we then carried later to a pharmacy so that they could order it for us. Once it arrived, we first had to pay out of pocket and then carry it over to our GP's clinic (which was across the street from the pharmacy), so that they could store it for us. Then we arranged the schedule of shots: some vaccines had a strict timeline of when they could be administered to you.

Now here's the nice thing. German health care actually covers a large amount of these vaccines. After all, we paid hundreds of euros for these vaccines out of pocket. But after that, all we needed to do was submit the documentation to our insurance, and as long as our vaccines were necessary for a personal trip (they wouldn't cover it if it were for a business trip), then they would pay at times up to 90% of the cost. So most of the money we spent for these vaccines were refunded to us later.

Now I must say, that's quite neat! I definitely am a fan of German healthcare.

So yes, I now have protection against Japanese encephalitis, as well as rabies. So no need to worry about stray dogs and bats, especially if you're in a rural area and medical care is hard to come by.

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