It's a question faced by countless travelers headed overseas: What's the best source for travel immunizations?
Private physicians are one option. Private clinics specializing in travel medicine are another. But both can be expensive. For travelers flexible enough to make an appointment during somewhat limited business hours, a visit to one of the handful of county and city health clinics that offer immunizations could be the answer. However, travelers with preexisting conditions should contact their private physicians before scheduling any immunizations.
Some of the public health clinics require appointments; others do not. Some charge separate office and immunization fees, in addition to the cost of the vaccine itself. Some write prescriptions for travel-related drugs in addition to offering inoculations. Most are not open weekends. Many try to administer to travelers in one hour or less.
These facilities can provide information on what immunizations are needed for a trip, or travelers can contact the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's International Travelers' Hotline, (404) 332-4559. It disseminates information by voice recording and by fax, based on CDC requirements and recommendations.
Here are five main county and city sources for travel immunization services in Southern California. It's best to telephone in advance of a visit (where phone numbers are listed) because prices and available vaccines are subject to change.
Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, 2525 Grand Ave., Long Beach; telephone (310) 570-4222. Appointment required. Hours are 8 to 11 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. daily except Monday, when the clinic opens at 9:45 a.m. and Wednesday, when it opens at 9 p.m.
Vaccines available and prices: Hepatitis A, $52 per dose for adults (two doses needed) or $20 per dose for children 18 and under (two doses needed); polio, $30; tetanus-diphtheria, $15; measles-mumps-rubella, $33; cholera, $16; oral typhoid $30, typhoid injection, $35; yellow fever, $60; meningococcal, $50; hepatitis B, $35 per dose (three needed over a six-month period); Japanese encephalitis, $60; pre-exposure rabies, $130 for three doses. Malaria prescription, no charge if given with office visit.
The office visit fee is $20.
Orange County Health Care Agency, 1725 W. 17th St., Santa Ana; no phone number for the public available. No appointment required. Hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Vaccines available and prices: yellow fever, $35; cholera, $9.50; oral typhoid, $16; injectable typhoid, $2; injectable polio, $20; meningococcal, $42; hepatitis A, $51 per dose (two needed); hepatitis B, $26.75 per dose (three needed over six months); pre-exposure rabies, $61.50 per dose (three needed over three to four weeks).
The office visit fee is $26.50.
Pasadena Public Health Department, 1845 N. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena, room 1610; tel. (818) 844-6007. Appointment necessary. Hours of the travel clinic are Mondays, 8 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Vaccines available and prices: cholera, $20; varicella (for chicken pox prevention), $75 per dose (two needed); hepatitis A, $75 per dose (two needed); hepatitis B, $65 per dose (three needed over six months); measles-mumps-rubella, $15; meningococcal, $70; inactivated injectable polio, $40; pre-exposure rabies, $90 per dose (three needed over three to four weeks); tetanus-diphtheria, $15; injectable typhoid, $15 to $45, oral typhoid, $40; yellow fever, $65.
There is no office visit fee.
Ventura County Public Health, 3147 Loma Vista Road, Ventura, tel. (805) 652-6009 and Simi Valley Public Health, 2003 Royal Ave., Simi Valley (call Ventura Public Health office to make an appointment). Appointment needed for both. Ventura hours are 8 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. In Simi, travel immunizations on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Vaccines available and prices: oral typhoid prescription or malaria prescription (not the medication), $20 per dose; injectable typhoid, $22 to $52; injectable polio, $40; tetanus-diphtheria, $23; meningococcal, $66; yellow fever, $58; hepatitis A, $66 per dose (two needed); hepatitis A for age 18 and under, $43 per dose (two needed); hepatitis B for adults, $64 per dose (three needed over six months); hepatitis B for children up to age 18, $5 per dose (three needed over six months), measles-mumps-rubella for adults, $48; cholera, $20.
There is no office visit fee.