Travelling to an exotic destination, whether for work or for pleasure, is always an exciting prospect.
But many of these places are also hot-spots for nasty illnesses, so it’s essential to get vaccinated to avoid catching a potentially life-threatening disease.
Which Vaccinations Are Available?
There are many illnesses which can be prevented with the right vaccinations. These include:
- hepatitis A
- hepatitis B
- Japanese encephalitis
- meningococcal meningitis
- MMR (measles, mumps and rubella)
- tick-borne encephalitis
- tuberculosis (TB)
- yellow fever
A full list of available vaccinations and exactly what they do can be found on the NHS Travel Vaccinations page.
Which Vaccinations Do I Need?
Naturally, the exact vaccinations you need depends on any previous vaccinations you’ve had, the area you’re visiting, and your individual circumstances.
For example, many African and South American countries require a yellow fever vaccination prior to entry.
If you’re working in a high-risk environment, such as a refugee camp or medical centre, you’re more likely to be exposed to illnesses, so you may need more vaccinations than if you’re visiting a hotel for a couple of weeks.
Always check exactly what you need — you can find detailed information at NHS Fit for Travel.
How Much Will Travel Vaccinations Cost?
Some vaccinations are usually given free on the NHS. These are:
- Diphtheria, polio and tetanus (triple booster)
- Hepatitis A (including in combination with typhoid or hepatitis B)
Other vaccinations must be paid for privately. These include:
- Yellow fever
- Some forms of encephalitis
Most private vaccinations cost around £50 per dose, so remember to factor that into your costs when planning your travel.
Where Can I Get Travel Vaccinations?
The best place to start is with your GP, who will recommend specific travel vaccinations advice for your circumstances and destination.
You can also have travel vaccinations done at a private travel clinic. Some private clinics offer a walk-in service, which could be handy if you need treatment quickly, but they will charge for vaccinations that are free on the NHS.
Yellow fever vaccinations must be done at a designated centre — some GP surgeries can do this, but others can’t. You can find your nearest yellow fever vaccination centre by searching on National Travel Health Network and Centre.
How Soon Should I Have the Vaccinations Done?
Some vaccinations need time to take effect, and others consist of a course of treatment (e.g. three shots, given at set intervals, a few days apart), so it’s recommended that you get started about eight weeks before you travel.
What If I’m Pregnant or Breastfeeding?
As with all medical matters, you need expert advice if you need travel vaccinations when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
In most cases, the possible side effects of a vaccination are minor, rare, and preferable to the potential risk of contracting a serious illness. However, always seek professional advice on this matter.
What If I Have a Low-Functioning Immune System?
Patients with reduced immunity may not be able to have vaccinations, so check with a health professional for individual travel vaccination advice.