Vaccinated! Getting Yellow Fever Certified in Korea
Mosquitos absolutely love me. Or rather my blood. It doesn’t seem to matter how many other tasty veins are around, they all zone into me and I end up with 10 bites, while everyone around me gets off scot-free! The Bear likes to call me his “insect repellent,” because they don’t bother with him and his furry legs when I’m around.
I despise mosquitos with a vengeance. A close second in the “despising category” is being forced to do things I don’t really want to do. Finding out that I HAD to get a yellow fever vaccination to enter Tanzania, didn’t make me happy. The fact that yellow fever is transmitted by the female version of the blood sucking monster above made it even worse.
Avoiding mosquito bites in endemic areas is one of the main ways to prevent yellow fever. So unless I walk all over Tanzania wearing a head to toe bugsuit, like this one from Sea to Summit, that’s not going to happen.
To be fair, yellow fever isn’t happy stuff, with the most serious cases ending with multi-organ dysfunction and death. Still, these deaths are rare and usually among the elderly. And in fact, people have died from getting the vaccine too!! 😦
However, since we didn’t have any choice in the matter, off we went to the travel clinic at the National Medical Centre or 국립중앙의료원 in Korean. We called ahead to make sure we could get injected there, but appointments are not really necessary.
The process is a little confusing because you have to visit a few different locations within the hospital, but all the rooms are basically attached to the main lobby, so there’s not much distance to cover. I’ll try to explain as clearly as possible.
- We found an info desk immediately to the right of the entrance doors, where we filled out our yellow fever vaccination forms.
- Once that was done, we had to take the forms and pay the vaccination fee at the bank located across the lobby. The fee for the yellow fever vaccination was 27,000krw. As proof of payment, the bank teller gave us a bunch of postage type stamps which were then glued to the bottom of the form.
- From there, we walked over to a desk that said “Yellow Fever Certification” in english above it. It’s next to another counter, where people are waiting for their number to be called. We didn’t have to take a number or wait at all…just walked right up to the other counter. We paid another 5,000krw each for the actual yellow fever certificate.
- Next to this counter, was the “Travel Clinic.” We handed over our completed forms to the nurse at the front desk. She took our temperature to make sure it was normal.
- After a few minutes, we were shown in to see the doctor. He reviewed our travel itinerary and suggested that we also get typhoid fever and tetanus immunizations, along with something for malaria. He also went over the side effects of the yellow fever immunization and checked our profiles to make sure there were no risk factors. He spoke mostly in Korean, which I can understand, but not speak very well. (But I’m actually pretty certain the doctor spoke english well too).
- Once cleared to get the shot, we walked over to the injection room, handed over our forms again and then sat in the waiting area. Ten minutes later, we were called in, and before I knew it, the shot was over and done with. Just a little prick and not painful at all.
- We were given our signed WHO International Certificates of vaccination and told to sit and wait for 20 minutes before leaving, to ensure we didn’t have any kind of allergic reaction.
It’s been 48 hours since we had the vaccination, and so far, so good. No side effects (though incubation is 3-6 days). We’ll see, I guess.
We also ended up getting the typhoid fever vaccination which is a common worldwide bacterial disease, transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated by the feces of an infected person. Gross. Wash your hands already! But since we are adventurous eaters while traveling, it seemed wise. For this shot, we had to take a number at the big counter to pay (not the bank), and go through the whole doctor consultation – injection room – waiting process again. Still, the whole thing only took another 20 minutes. And the cost for this one: 30,300krw.
The Centre is located about 500 metres straight out of exit 13 of Dongdaemun History and Culture Park subway station.
On a total side note, I checked the cost of these immunizations in Canada, and once again I am totally blown away by the difference in cost. $40 for consultation, $125 for yellow fever and $45 for typhoid! I swear, we’ve saved thousands of dollars just by planning this trip in Seoul, instead of Canada.