Wherever you’re jetting off to, take a moment to find out if you’ll need any vaccinations to protect against infectious diseases.
How can I find out if I need a vaccination?
It all depends on your travel plans. If you’re visiting a big city in the EU, you probably won’t need any jabs at all. If you’re visiting a tropical country, it’s a lot more likely.
The NHS Fit for Travel website lists vaccine requirements by country, giving information on which vaccines, boosters and certificates are required, including information on malaria and yellow fever.
Even if you’re feeling on top form, there’s still a risk of catching something while you’re abroad, whether it’s from food, water, insects or animals. A visit to your GP or a Travel Nurse is the best way to find out what you need to do.
If you don’t need any jabs, they’ll still be able to assess any health risks that you might not have considered, and give you advice before you travel.
Just let them know where you’re travelling to, and be as specific as possible. They’ll be able to tell you exactly which vaccinations you’ll need, several of which are available for free (or at low cost) on the NHS.
Even though it can be a bit of a hassle, you’ll be glad when they’re all done.
Can I get travel vaccinations on the NHS?
You can get the following vaccines on the NHS:
- Diphtheria, tetanus and polio (combined)
- Hepatitis A
These will be offered free, or possibly at the charge of a prescription depending on your surgery. High-street chemists will also offer travel vaccines, but these will usually be more expensive than the NHS.
What other vaccinations might I need?
Other vaccinations and treatments are available on the NHS, but you’ll have to pay more than the cost of a prescription. Here are some you may need to consider:
- Hepatitis B
- Japanese encephalitis
- Malaria tablets (available over the counter)
- Other meningitis vaccines
- Tick-borne encephalitis
- Yellow fever
For a full list, including when vaccinations are likely to be required, check the NHS website
Do I need to book them in advance?
They’re not the kind of thing you can book the week before you’re due to fly. For example, the rabies vaccine requires three jabs given over six weeks.
If you do need jabs last minute, it may be quicker to book an appointment at a private clinic rather than your GP, though it’ll probably cost more. However, most vaccines require a bit of time to be effective, so don’t assume you’re covered as soon as you have the injection.
Once you know which vaccinations you need, shop around. Some chemists and clinics may offer the vaccinations at lower prices.
Even though you’ve had your vaccinations, there’s still no guarantee against being infected with a disease or illness. Take the usual sensible precautions, like washing your hands and carrying anti-bacterial gel while you’re visiting a country where infectious diseases are more common.