Vaccinations, immunization, meds for South America

What vaccines for which country?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has the full list of recommended vaccines for each country.


My insurance (Cigna PPO) covered routine and preventive vaccines (Hepatits A/B, TDAP, flu, MMR, polio, etc). It did not cover yellow fever ($120 in DC metro area) and Typhoid ($70). There may and probably will be a travel consultation fee through any clinic you visit, even if it’s a primary care doctors’ office (mine was $70, should normally be $40-$50).

Recommended but not necessary vaccine/med

Malaria – a friend who did volunteer work in Thailand said she took the pill before departure and arrived to learn that the malaria pills were not a necessity as long as you have good insect repellent.

Rabie – Even if you get the shot now, you will still need to get the same treatment if you’re ever bitten by a rabid animal. The vaccine only buys you a bit more time.


Antibiotics – I got prescription from the same visit where I got the yellow fever shot. $5 at the pharmacy without insurance.


Walgreen carries all of the shots and no prescription needed. The only vaccine that needs a prescription is yellow fever. They were able to check my insurance coverage at the window before proceeding.

Minute Clinic (CVS) also carries the shots. However, since the insurance coverage was processed after my shots, I would’ve had to pay out of pocket if my insurance didn’t cover (luckily it did). Not sure if this is the usual business procedure.


Started planning about 6-8 weeks out. Some vaccines takes a few weeks to kick in and Hep A/B requires multiple shots. The earlier you start the better the protection will be. Also because some clinic may have all the shots and some may not. I had to make 3 trips to the nurse/doctor’s office to get all of mine.

Other essentials to consider

Credit card – Do your current cards¬†charge foreign transaction fee? If yes, sign up for another card soon. FTF can get real hefty really soon (usually 3% of each transaction). Most of the Capital One Bank’s credit cards DON’T have foreign transaction fee. I have the Venture One and a debit/credit card as backup, both from Capital One.

ATM card – Does your ATM card reimburse ATM fees? I got slammed DOUBLE on ATM fees when I was in Europe, one fee from my bank and one fee from the local bank I pulled money¬†from. For this trip, I signed up for the Charles Schwab high investor checking they have an office in Tysons (VA). It’s easier to apply at the office than online (signatures and etc). This CS account have no annual fee, no minimum, and FREE ATM worldwide (they will reimburse any atm fees).

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