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Traveling and Vaccines Shouldn’t Go Hand In Hand

Few people understand what it’s like for someone with RA and fibromyalgia to go through security at the airport a day after having the pneumonia 13 vaccine.

I wasn’t able to get the shot in NYC as my internist didn’t even know about it and failed to order it for me (which is alarming and one of the many reasons I’m in the process of switching internists). Clearly I had to take this into my own hands – I need the vaccination to stay well and avoid the hospital.

My rheumatologist in Chicago quarterbacks my care and I saw him recently and got the vaccine. I was warned the actual shot might hurt as there is an ingredient that may sting when injecting. The actual vaccine didn’t hurt compared to what I’m used to with Humira and I was thrilled.

A few hours later I quickly lost patience when trying to pack with an arm that felt like I had been punched over and over. Ice, advil and little sleep – I was not a happy camper as I left for the airport. I had been in Chicago for 2 months and had lots with me which didn’t help the situation.

So when my bag was 5 pounds overweight and the curbside attendant asked me to remove items from my bag I explained I have RA and was holding all I could manage. He tried to beg me to add more to my purse and finally I paid the $125 because I wasn’t able to hold more without hurting myself. His idea of convincing me to carry-on more didn’t work. He had no idea how difficult it is for me to manage what I’m carrying.

I try and practice not getting worked up or sweating the small stuff but at times it is impossible, especially when pain is involved. What a waste of money! I continue to remind myself that the support from the RA and autoimmune community really allows me to vent when I need to and I appreciate that and all of the support.

Don’t get a vaccination the day before you travel. You will end up paying for it – literally. Live and learn.

asbRA was diagnosed with RA in November 2012 at the age of 27 and fibromyalgia in 2013. Through therapy and MBSR meditation asbRA found her calling in journaling her experience and is writing a book on how to navigate an RA diagnosis in the prime of one’s life. As a strong advocate in the autoimmune community asbRA shares her wisdom in hopes of helping others. @AllisonSBerger

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Carla Kienast
    5 years ago

    Absolutely it’s great to have the community support that “gets” what you’re going through. I got my flu shot right before a trip to Las Vegas (so I wouldn’t get sick), and no had issues, but the flu shot isn’t the pneumonia 33 vaccine.

  • Mariah Z. Leach moderator
    5 years ago

    Hi Ali ~ Thanks so much for sharing your story. I agree that there are few people who can understand what you went through but the few of us who do are here! You are right that we are lucky to have each other’s support. I would never wish RA on anyone but since we all have it I am glad we can be a supportive community for each other! ~;o)

  • Kelly Mack moderator
    5 years ago

    How frustrating! And what a terrible example of how a little flexibility and understanding from the airline about your condition/abilities could have gone a long way towards making your travel experience easier. I have challenges traveling as well and can totally relate. It takes a lot of planning to make it work for me, and sometimes calls to the airline. Hope next step is easier!

  • Ali author
    5 years ago

    Thanks so much for the support.

  • Kathleen Pimlott
    5 years ago

    I am so sorry that you had such a difficult time. My heart goes out to you. I totally understand. I can hardly carry my own purse sometimes. Bless your heart.

  • Scott Howard
    5 years ago

    I can only imagine what it is like trying to carry extra things to avoid the over weight baggage fee. My wife and I have played the “put on more clothes and put stuff in our carry on bags to avoid the fee” game. It wasn’t fun when my RA wasn’t acting up.

    Sorry you had a bad experience.

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