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How We Saved Money on Travel Vaccinations

Unfortunately one aspect of traveling around the world is that you expose yourselves to infectious agents that you rarely encounter at home. Many of these infection risks can be mitigated with highly effective vaccines. When we planned our trip to Malaysia we researched what vaccinations were most appropriate for our travel style.

The Centers for Disease Control have a simple no nonsense website that recommends which vaccines to get depending on the country you are visiting and the type of travel you are doing. Given that we planned to stay away from remote areas, we decided we needed Hepatitis A and Typhoid. Also we knew our Tetanus shots were not up to date so we needed to get that too.

Once we decided what we needed we then researched where to get the shots. We looked at travel clinics in San Diego but reading the reviews we were unimpressed with what was on offer. Many people talked of expensive consultation fees, which basically gave the clinic the opportunity to scare you and persuade you that you needed far more shots that you had originally planned. All of these costs eat into the travel budget. Not good!

We found out that Hepatitis A takes a relatively long time to become effective (2 to 4 weeks), while tetanus and typhoid were shorter. So we decided we would get our Hep A shots while still in the US, but would wait until we were in Kuala Lumpur to get the other two to cut costs.

Arm selfies after our Hep A shots
Shopping around for the Hep A shot, we found that many US pharmacies offer the vaccines without the need for a physician consultation. After several failed attempts at the Walmart pharmacy to get the vaccine ordered in, we eventually went to Walgreens. They had the vaccine in stock and within 15 minutes we saw the pharmacist and were administered the shots. No appointment needed. We need to go back in 6 months to get a booster to give us longer lasting immunity. The cost for the vaccine was pretty high at $114 each, but at least we avoided expensive consultation fees.

For Typhoid and Tetanus we decided to wait until we were out of the US. We had read some other blogger reviews of the Twin Towers Medical Center in the Suria KLCC mall under the Petronas Towers. We didn't need an appointment. We just walked in, told them which vaccinations we wanted and filled in some simple paperwork, basically our address and our passport numbers. We were given a number (just like at the deli counter in the store) and told to wait. After about 25 minutes we were called in. The physician administered the shots, one in each arm. We waited another 10 minutes to go to the billing desk where we paid. The whole process took less than an hour.

The entrance to the clinic is right in the shopping mall. No appointment needed
Waiting room, waiting for our number to be called while watching the Amazing Race!
The costs for each of us were RM20 (US$4.55) for Tetanus and RM77 (US$17.60) for Typhoid. A RM20 consultation fee was added. Total for each of us was RM117 ($26.70). At Walgreens back in the US Tetanus is US$55 a shot, and typhoid is US$100. Our total savings were over US$256 by waiting until we got to KL. That's about a month's worth of eating out here!

The clinic was clean and professional, a little busy but very efficient. We definitely would recommend them as an inexpensive alternative for immunizations if you are traveling through Kuala Lumpur.


  1. I can't believe the prices of pharmaceuticals in the USA, good to know there are alternatives, apart from going down to Mexico

    1. I know, it really is extortion. We try and avoid ever using medical services in the US now