Do we really need travel vaccinations? | Backpacking Travel Blog

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We aren’t the complaining type, but we sure went through some crappy moments in preparation for our trip. One of the things we knew we would need was travel vaccinations. Fortunately for us, we discovered our insurance plan covered these in full. This story involves a lot of time, frustration, patience, and the repeated question of “do we really need travel vaccinations?”

First things first. We had to find an in-network doctor who could provide us the immunizations. As any millennial would do, we searched online. We called several places before finding one that “specializes in travel vaccinations.” They would be able to help us. Except…she didn’t. She didn’t know about, nor have the vaccines we needed. This “specialty doctor” literally printed out the CDC website information and handed it to us. *Facepalm*

After our failed attempt with the doctor, we visited a real travel doctor. Yes those do in fact exist! Insurance does not cover them, but they exist!. We still went so that we could validate our research, learn about what we would need, and feel more comfortable with this aspect of preparing for our trip. Also, it allowed us to calm our parents nerves about all the potential illnesses we could acquire. With our validated vaccination (shot) list, we went back online to try to find another doctor to get all the vaccines we needed.  Except we noticed a major national pharmacy was listed as covered, We quickly called our insurance to confirm this coverage. We should “be able to walk right in and get all the vaccinations without a prescription.” Simple, right?

We should have known. Things with us aren’t always so clear-cut. Travel vaccinations quickly become the most challenging part of all our preparation. Often asking ourselves “Do we really need immunizations?” The answer was always “Yes! We have nervous parents!”

Ok. We are going to save the details and give you a summary of what occurred over the next several months. Yes, you read that right…MONTHS!

Insurance said we were covered 100%. The pharmacy said we were not and would need to pay out of pocket. Lots of back and forth, time spent on the phone with insurance and in person at the pharmacy. Can we just tell our parents we got the travel vaccinations? No…we can’t. We can’t lie. What if we pet a monkey or something? After a month or so, we gave up and applied for an insurance exception to go straight to the health department. This exception approval would guarantee reimbursement if we paid out of pocket. We have the same exact insurance plan yet only one of us was approved. Let me emphasize this: Both of us on the same insurance plan. Only one of us two were approved. Fun right?

Blah blah blah. More back and forth between pharmacy and insurance. Our last day in Dallas arrived. And, we had run out of time and decided to pay out of pocket, get the vaccines at the pharmacy, and then fight for reimbursement. It was expensive! We had one vaccine left to get, but needed to wait a couple weeks because some you are unable to get at the same time. Living now with Sara’s parents, we could not find the vaccine nearby. We called every pharmacy, health department, and travel clinic within a 100-mile radius. We had to drive out of the area to the closest place that could provide the vaccinations. A convenient four-hour drive EACH WAY. Yes, you read that right! But, we now have all our vaccines (and a large expenditure).

We submit for reimbursement with our insurance. Want to guess? Consequently, we are denied because we are “not covered at the pharmacy.” More frustration, more back and forth, more appeals. In addition, we have successfully memorized not just the phone numbers for insurance AND the pharmacy, but also the song that plays while on hold. Enough material to give you nightmares.

Finally…we find a resolution. The pharmacy should have never given us the travel vaccines. They reimbursement us the entire amount! We dropped our appeal with insurance, although they also would have ultimately had to reimburse us as well.

The pharmacy was wrong. Our insurance was wrong. And we were $2,500 out of pocket. We were relentless and had the ability to fight this but we wonder…What about the elderly? The unaware? The inexperienced? The more serious, urgent, costly issues? What about these people? Those without the money to pay out of pocket? Who helps them? How long must they fight to get their proper coverage and care? We surely aren’t an anomaly. In conclusion, you DO need travel vaccinations even if you aren’t petting a monkey or a dog, always tell your parents the truth (are you reading this mom?) but most importantly we aren’t the complaining type we just like to make light of silly stressors in life. We were finally reimbursed, memorized two new phone numbers, and have two new jingles planted in our memory forever.


6 thoughts on “Do we really need travel vaccinations? | Backpacking Travel Blog

  1. Love your anecdotes! Thanks for inviting me to be a part of your adventures at least in a vicarious way. Love you gals, enjoy. And keep them coming

  2. Wow, what a frustrating experience on top of all the other to-do items I’m sure you had to complete (ahem, move, plan, etc. etc.). Glad you did get it all figured out. Now, go pet all the monkeys!

  3. I love this. Thanks girls. Although I get updates from Cindy, I love reading the adventures of ChrissyandSara!

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