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Healthy holiday: travel health & vaccination deadlines

Staying safe while on vacation

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If you are travelling outside of the UK or Europe, you risk coming into contact with diseases which aren’t present in the UK. This means you need to be vaccinated against them to ensure your safety when travelling abroad. 

High risk destinations include: 

  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Central and South America
  • Middle East 

There are varying reasons for this- including the presence of disease, differing standards and availability of healthcare and lower hygiene standards. Having the recommended vaccines before you travel helps to ensure you won’t fall ill while abroad, particularly if you are travelling to remote areas where there may not be access to healthcare. 

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What vaccinations will I need? 

The vaccinations you will need depend on where you are travelling and what you plan to do while you are there. For example, if you are going as an aid worker or to care for animals, then you’re going to be more at risk of disease than someone going on holiday. In this case, you’ll likely need a cholera vaccination- which isn’t necessary for most travellers.

Africa 

If you’re travelling to Africa you might need the following vaccinations:

  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Meningococcal meningitis
  • BCG
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow fever

Asia

You should receive the following vaccinations before travelling to Asia: 

  • Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Tick-borne encephalitis
  • BCG
  • Typhoid

Middle East

If you’re travelling to the Middle East these vaccines are recommended:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Meningococcal meningitis
  • BCG
  • Typhoid

Central and South America

These are the vaccines you’ll need to get for safe travel to Central or South America: 

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • BCG
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow fever

Eastern Europe

You might need to be vaccinated against Tick-borne encephalitis for travel to certain areas of Eastern Europe- mainly if you are going to be hiking or camping.

India

You’re likely to need a BCG and Typhoid vaccination before visiting some areas of India. 

 

Malaria prevention

There is no vaccination available for malaria, which is a disease spread by mosquitoes. Antimalarial tablets are available on prescription and are essential if you are travelling anywhere where there is a risk of contracting the disease. While they reduce the risk of malaria by 90% you should still take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitos- for example, having a mosquito net, insect repellent and wearing loose fitting clothes which cover your skin. 

At risk areas for malaria include: 

  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Central and South America
  • Haiti
  • Dominican republic
  • Middle East
  • Some pacific islands 

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When should I get travel vaccinations?

You should make arrangements with your GP or private clinic no later than 8 weeks before you are due to travel. Some vaccinations need to be given far in advance, while others involve several doses spread out over a couple of weeks. Your GP will be able to advise on exactly which vaccinations you’re going to need, and when you should have them. 

Where do I go for travel vaccines? 

Some GP practices offer travel vaccines. You should contact your GP in the first instance to discuss your existing vaccination records and what services they have available for any vaccines you will need. They may refer you to a private travel vaccination clinic, or advise you on any local pharmacies which are offering travel vaccinations. 

Can I get travel vaccinations on the NHS?

Not all the vaccines you will need are available for free on the NHS. Diptheria/polio, hepatitis A, cholera and typhoid are available for free but all others you will need to pay for. It’s also important to be aware that certain countries will not let you enter unless you can provide proof that you have had the relevant vaccinations. This is known as an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP). In any case, it’s useful to bring the records of your vaccinations just in case. 

Travel and covid-19

At the present time, UK residents are not advised to travel abroad due to the covid-19 pandemic. If you have a trip planned, it might well have been rescheduled or cancelled for this reason. NHS advice states that travel vaccinations are currently being rescheduled in the midst of the pandemic due to the advice on travel.

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