Saturday, December 15, 2012

Getting that Yellow Fever Jab in Bangalore

[The procedure for getting the yellow fever vaccine in Bangalore appears to have changed since I posted this. Thanks to "Anonymous" in the Comments section for providing the updated procedure (as of Jan 2014). Here is what he/she says:

"The vaccine costs 400/- INR now. 
1. Get your appointment on Mondays, preferably before noon, by calling  080- 22210248 for an appointment for Wednesday (if Wednesday is a public holiday, the jab is administered on Thursday).
2. Carry a copy of your travel tickets & your original passport. 
3. Go to the center by 9:30 AM. Google Maps gets you there perfectly. You have parking as well. 
4. Your name is called out at 10:00 AM. Works very efficiently. Fill in the simple form, go to the room next door, pay the fees and you get a receipt. 
5. Come back with the form & the receipt. Your yellow card is issued with a number on it. Fill in your name, passport number, DOB & mandatory requirements. 
6. Go to the administrator & your number is called out.
7. Get the jab - if you are in by 9:30 AM, you can exit by 10:45 AM. 
Works very efficiently if you are organized. Extremely punctual & courteous, if you have all your paper work."]


My original post in Dec 2012 about the procedure:

In preparation for my trip to East Africa, I realised it was mandatory for all travelers going there (regardless of whether you're headed to mainland Tanzania or Zanzibar) to get a yellow fever vaccination and certificate. They will ask to see your certificate at your port of entry. If you don't have it, you will be directed to the inoculation room at the airport before you can clear immigration.

There was hardly any information online about getting the shot in Bangalore. So here’s me doing my good deed for all those trawling for information about “yellow fever vaccination in Bangalore” on the internet.

While some private hospitals (like Manipal) do administer the vaccine (I’m not sure how much they charge for this), a certificate from them is not recognized.

The only place that can issue that all-important certificate (and administer the vaccine at a subsidized rate of Rs 260) is the Public Health Institute.

I groaned when I realised this. Government organisation. And we all know how any Indian government institute is going to be. The website will tell you that the vaccines are given only every Wednesday – for which you need to make an appointment over the telephone beforehand.

So I tried calling – but each time, either nobody would pick up (big surprise there?) or even if somebody did, they’d say all the appointments were “full” (only 10 appointments are given for each Wednesday) and to call back later.

That’s when a doctor neighbour who’d gone through the rigmarole himself gave me this invaluable piece of advice on how to go about it.

1. Go to the Public Health Institute in person first thing Monday morning (9 AM) along with your passport.
2. Wait in queue there (there were about three people already waiting when I reached).
3. When the guy in charge finally shows up (around 10:30 AM), he’ll open his register and ask each person when their date of travel is. This is where you FIB. If your date of travel is even 10 days away, he’ll ask you to come back the next week. So tell him your date of travel is about a week away – he will just have to give you the appointment (and they don’t ask to see your tickets!)
4. The guy will enter your name and passport number in the register and give you the date and time of your vaccination appointment.
5. On Wednesday, show up well in time with your passport and two disposable syringes. They have their own syringes as well – a lot of people did not have their own syringes – but do you really want to risk it?
6. Once the guy in charge has arrived, he’ll cross-check your name and appointment in his register and give you a form and the yellow fever booklet to fill in before sending you to another office to pay Rs 260 (take exact change to save time).
7. With the payment receipt in hand, you will now have to wait your turn as the doctors call out each name in the order entered in the register.
8. The shot is a trifle painful (intra-muscular), but it’s valid for ten years, so that’s a blessing.
9. The doctors will sign and seal your certificate/booklet and you’re free to go.
10. Wait outside in the parking lot for the inconsiderate morons who’ve parked their two-wheelers haphazardly, blocking your exit.

I didn't spend too much time waiting around for the shot. In the time that I did have to wait, I found myself conversing with two nuns headed to Congo.

I also had time to observe this braggart who was first in queue for the appointment. He looked dressed for Africa already – a safari hat atop his bald head and a long handlebar mustache. Was he headed on a hunting expedition? “Look at my passport,” he declared, rifling through the pages dramatically to show his neighbour, who looked on quietly. “I have been to so many countries, you know!” Obviously not pleased with his neighbour’s lack of adulation, he turned to the third person in queue and brandished his passport. “I have traveled everywhere!”

Okay, wise guy. Obviously, “everywhere” does not include Africa and South America – two continents that require you to have the yellow fever vaccination which is valid for ten years.

On the day of the vaccination, the guy had changed considerably – the hat and handlebar mustache were gone. What was even more conspicuous in its absence was his bluster. The wind had been let out of his sails and he sat quietly, glumly staring at the floor. I think somebody was mortally afraid of injections. *Smirk*

Public Health Institute (Opposite: S.J.Polytechnique college),
Near Atria Hotel/ K.R Circle, Bangalore-560001
Telephone Number: 080-22210248

(Landmark: Maharani’s College. The quickest route I found from the centre of town was from Vittal Mallya road, cutting through Cubbon Park and coming out onto the crazy roundabout at Nrupathanga Road)