You’ve booked your holiday, you’ve bought a new set of outfits for the trip, you’ve sorted your insurance but have you considered what jabs you need when travelling abroad?
The answer to this question really does depend on where and when you are travelling. Certain countries will require specific vaccinations for a number of reasons: dangerous animals may be commonplace there, food and water may be more hazardous for tourists and certain diseases may be easily caught through water or food. Your age, the duration of your stay and the activities you will be doing will also play a part in what vaccinations are needed. Of course, some travel destinations may not require you to have any jabs at all.
Take our advice and plan ahead for peace of mind and to avoid any nasty surprises once you jet off.
Once you decide on a destination, the smart thing to do is some solid research on the area. Discover what food you should expect to encounter, especially if you suffer from intolerances. Some places may be less accommodating for people with strict dietary requirements. Check what the weather will be like during your stay. Is it the rainy season? Will there be an influx of mosquitoes? Are you staying in a rural area where the risks of disease are higher? These are all questions you should be asking yourself. You also need to consider if there are any specific certificates or visas you need before entering. For example, some countries like Saudi Arabia require you to have an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) before being granted access.
Likewise, tropical countries like Africa and South America have stringent rules on visitors who may be arriving from a place where yellow fever is common. In such cases you will need proof that you have had an immunisation against the disease. Pop to your local GP surgery or visit fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk/destinations.aspx
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Where to go
Once you have determined what jabs you need for your holiday, it’s up to you to organise them. Leave plenty of time for this—certain vaccinations require several sessions and may take longer than expected. Try to seek medical advice at least eight weeks before your travel date; this should leave enough leeway for long waiting times. Some vaccinations are free on the NHS but others are charged. Factor this into your budget when planning your trip. The following jabs are usually free:
- Diphtheria, polio and tetanus (combined booster)
- Hepatitis A (sometimes combined with Hepatitis B)
The most common vaccines that you will have to pay for include:
- Hepatitis B (when not combined with Hepatitis A)
- Japanese encephalitis and tick-borne encephalitis
- Tuberculosis (TB)
- Yellow fever
The costs of these private vaccinations will vary from clinic to clinic—most times, you should expect to pay around £50 for each dosage.
Additional aspects to consider
You may be content with getting only the vital jabs for your time away, but there are other aspects to consider before making a definitive choice. The nature of your trip will affect what jabs you need when travelling abroad. Consider:
- The length of your trip—the rule is simple, the longer your trip the more at risk you may be of catching something.
- Your age and health—if you have a weakened immune system, are a senior or have previously suffered from a serious illness you should seriously think about getting all the jabs that are necessary rather than the bare minimum.
- If you will be working within a medical setting—if this is the case, you should be immunised fully. Aid workers will come into contact with far more diseases and infections than regular travellers, and therefore need to be strict with their jabs.
- If you will be in contact with animals—if you are certain that you will be around animals, your jabs should be chosen appropriately. Immunisation against diseases like rabies will be vital for you in this case.
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