In August I travelled over to Nigeria on a recce and, at short notice, managed to make an appointment to see a nurse at the London Travel centre in Waterloo area. This was in order to get a Yellow Fever Vaccination as it is required in Nigeria and many African countries.
Now I had one of these in 1996 and that was valid for 10 years so time had passed and although I really hate to have chemicals pumped into my body for no good reason as this is ESSENTIAL when you go to Nigeria I was prepared to be pumped full of drugs (albeit reluctantly) and to pay £80 for the pleasure.
However, the lovely nurse there, having noticed that I already had previously had this jab and the fact that I am knocking on in years a bit (AND I take a weekly tablet to stop my bones deteriorating faster than they already are) suggested that all things considered I was probably protected. Also apparently in 2016 they are demolishing the need for a 10 year renewal on the jab so instead of having to pay £80 for a jab she issued me with an exemption certificate for the duration of my visit instead.
Wow, I thought – what a result – the universe is with me! So I happily went off to Nigeria UNPROTECTED by a vaccine – I realise many people never go anywhere without being pumped full of legal drugs (and often illegal I am sure!)
A few people I know mentioned that I should be wary because Ebola is in Nigeria and one dear friend was actually concerned that I may bring it back with me! However, no mandatory jabs for that as they do not have a vaccine so….off I went.
Anyway, whilst in Nigeria I managed to procure some consultancy business and although I am heading to Goa first (in fact I am sitting in the domestic airport in Mumbai at time of writing this) I do then need to go back to Nigeria via Kenya in mid- November.
So realising that I needed to get an extension (or new) exemption certificate, this time I decided my own doctor’s surgery would be an easier option and duly booked an appointment. Unfortunately the appointment had to be made further in advance but I got it for the day before I was flying to India so felt that would be fine since it was simply a re-issue and I would not need a jab.
Well, this is where things went sideways and I began to wonder if the National Health Service is a Notional health service.
You see this charming (I say that tongue in cheek) nurse called Andrea, greeted me with a bit of a grump on at 0835 and took me to her room where she proceeded to tell me of all the other jabs I should have when travelling overseas. I explained that I had the exemption cert issued for Yellow Fever but it had expired, so I would need a new one please. Unfortunately I had left it at home so did not show her this although I did offer to get it if needs be.
No she said, that won’t be necessary but then she proceeded to give me advice……………………….recommending I have Hep B and a Hep A booster if I hadn’t plus anti-malarial and things for typhoid, cholera etc. I had advised that I was off to India next day and she was amazed to hear me say that I had some jabs but only the essentials, preferring homeopathic medicines to assist me. She also asked me whether I was taking insurance – what business of hers that was I do not know. However, I said no I was not as the insurance companies often did not cover me for the trips I did. She then said this was rather irresponsible of me!!! Cheeky mare – she doesn’t know me or my history and so I was getting nowhere fast.
She did not even offer to give me the yellow fever jab and said she had to check a few things first to see if she could give me a certificate. I could not understand why one nurse would give me the cert and the other one was querying this. However, I waited until she returned to the room after 10minutes and told me she could not give me the cert and that I should go to Trail finders!
The fact that the yellow fever vaccine is in short supply would make me think she would prefer to give me an exemption but no…… and she still did not say she would give me the job so I left fuming!
I really had no time to go off to Trail finders and queue up there for a possible vaccine or certificate on my last day in London tidying up and sorting things.
Thus I now have to find a doctor in Goa (or a clinic) that can either give me the vaccination for Yellow Fever or an exemption certificate. It is not as if they won’t let me in the country without a vaccination – I already went once for 1 month and they didn’t evict me.
So in reality can someone tell me if the health service exists to help us or not? It seems nationally that the health service is not of a mind since both nurses gave me totally opposing opinions AND attitudes also.
In fact that is why I wonder if we should start calling it the NOTIONAL health service. After all I have a notion that Ebola vaccines would be enforced if they existed, but as they don’t we can avoid that one. I am concerned about this new flu (and any other new) vaccine for children that are soon to be introduced however. Will it be like the MMR vaccine and offer similar results years later? Let’s hope not eh?