Madrid: Do It Yourself Vaccine

Posted on June 22, 2006

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by almendro

I’ve always had a soft spot for Spanish medicine. Especially the pharmacies, where the job is taken very seriously, and prescriptions are only occasionally necessary. Spanish pharmacists fulfill a role somewhat closer to doctors than they do in the US: often you can walk in, describe your symptoms, answer a few questions, and walk out with just the thing for what ails you.

And in general, we’ve been delighted to learn that things like heavy-duty cough medicine with codeine (it’s allergy season and the whole country is suffering from the highest pollen counts in the past 20 years) are ours just for the asking.

Photo credit: Angel 14

But I have to admit to being more shaken than pleased when we discovered that the way to secure the hepatitus vaccine we need for an upcoming trip was to go to the pharmacy and request it. For 25 euros, a pharmacist will hand over a loaded syringe, packed in ice so that you can get it safely (these are live viruses after all) home to your refrigerator.

A Spanish pharmacist will not, however, no matter how much you beg, actually inject the vaccine for you. For that, you’re left to your own devices ("Try the clinic," ours recommended. "Or you can do it yourself.") And while I appreciate the apparent trust in my medical capabilities, I couldn’t help but wish on this one occasion for a little more oversight.