Pre-Thailand Chores; Informations and Vaccinations

American TESOL Institute Series

So skipping ahead a few months, as another summer on Mackinac Island provides little new from year to year.  The same small island, same seasonal people cycling through every year, and the same things that result from everyone knowing each other in such a small place.

Around mid-summer, I began looking seriously into a program called the American TESOL Institute (ATI) that operates a TESOL certification program in Thailand among other places.  The biggest problem in this process was that there simply wasn’t that much information available about ATI (apparently because it only started around 2007).  They have their own website, actually a couple, which sometimes didn’t help in convincing me of its legitimacy.

My biggest help in legitimate first-person experiences were blogs like my own here that the people not only updated on their experience through the program, but also gave me a direct line to ask them questions about the whole process.

So after a phone interview, several long Google chat conversations, proof of my degree and passport, and a $500 deposit, I was in the ATI program and began getting sent online reading material and assignments.  After the completion of these, I would join the class in person in Bangkok at the beginning of November.

Another task in getting ready for Thailand:  Vaccinations.  Doing some reading up on what I would need beforehand, I was expecting about 5 or 6.  However, a few of the more cynical sites aimed at/run by expats advised that whomever was giving the vaccinations would try to sell you on more than you would possibly need.

I didn’t find this to be the case at all.  I went in to the Kent County Health Department giving them the knowledge that I would be in Thailand for several months and not sure where to after that.  There were only 4 vaccinations that they said were very strongly suggested; Typhoid, Tetanus, Hepatitis A, and Hepatitis B.

On the desk in the nurse’s office was a map highlighting where in the world certain diseases were present.  Thailand was also included in a few such as rabies, Japanese Encephalitis, and influenza.  I’m more of the mindset that it’s better to deal with a minor cost and inconvenience now than a larger one later (though it doesn’t seem to always work out that way), so I asked about those ones.

The nurse told me that most of them were almost entirely unnecessary for me unless I was going there to either spend a great deal of time in the woods or work directly with animals.

The other one that was on my mind was the Yellow Fever vaccine.   It lasts for 10 years, but is only required for travel in South America and Africa.  I told the nurse that I would likely be in South America at some point in the next decade, though no idea when, where, or under what circumstances.

The Yellow Fever vaccine, I was told, is standardized worldwide.  I would get the same one at this Health Department as I would in one in Thailand or Austailia, or anywhere else I might ask for it.  So, unless I had imminent plans to travel to an at risk area, there was no point in getting it here and now.

Unfortunately, since I had been on Mackinac Island the last few months, a place with much to want in health facilities, I had decided it would be best to wait until I got back to Grand Rapids to get these immunizations.  I hadn’t known that the Hepatitis B vaccine was a 3 shot series requiring a month between the first and second shot.  I arranged to get the first with plans for the second and third in Thailand at a locale recommended by the American embassy.

So after two painless pricks in each arm (Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Tetanus, and Influenza) and a bill of $151, I left the clinic with a prescription for Malaria meds and a couple spots on my arms that wouldn’t become sore until about 6 hours after they had been injected.

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