A qualified nurse, author and first aid trainer with over 30 years’ healthcare and teaching experience

Vaccinations are viewed as a necessity of childhood. However, there are many jabs to consider in order to keep us healthy as adults, especially when travelling.

The vaccines you need when travelling depend on factors such as your age and lifestyle, any medical conditions you have, where you plan to travel, plus which vaccinations you’ve had in the past.

Vaccines for travellers

In general, if you’re only travelling to countries in northern and central Europe, North America or Australia, you are unlikely to need any vaccinations.

However, do check you’re up-to-date with routine vaccinations available on the NHS.

Yellow Fever is compulsory

Some vaccinations are important if you are travelling to a country where certain diseases have yet to be eradicated.

Additionally, if you are heading to the developing world you could be exposed to illnesses you’d never find at home.

For example, if you are visiting parts of sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America, the Yellow Fever vaccination is compulsory.

In fact, you must show proof of this inoculation if it is a requirement to enter the country, and you won’t get in without it.

Voluntary vaccines but advised

Outside of this, all other vaccines are voluntary, but advised.

If you are pregnant – or think you could be – or you breastfeeding do consult your doctor before having any vaccinations.

Also consult your GP if you are receiving treatments which affect your immune system such as chemotherapy.

Vaccines for specific times

Vaccines may also be required for specific periods of time. For example, the Saudi Arabian government stipulates you need the meningococcal vaccination — but only for travel during the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, and Umrah pilgrimages.

Possible risk factors

If you are working as an aid worker or in a medical setting may require additional vaccinations as you are likely to come into contact with more diseases.

Bear in mind too, that is you are abroad with animals, you may be more at risk of getting diseases spread by animals, such as rabies. Rabies vaccine is also indicated if you are planning to be in remote areas for a prolonged period, or if you are having an adventurous holiday with animal interaction.

Remember you may be more at risk of some diseases, for example:

  • if you’re visiting rural areas,
  • backpacking,
  • staying in hostels
  • camping
  • on a long trip – not just a package holiday
  • or if you have a pre-existing health problem

These travel vaccines are free

These travel vaccines are available free on the NHS if your GP practice is signed up to provide vaccination services.

  • polio (given as a combined diphtheria/tetanus/polio jab)
  • typhoid
  • hepatitis A
  • cholera

You have to pay for travel vaccinations for

  • rabies
  • tick-borne encephalitis
  • tuberculosis (TB)
  • hepatitis B
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • meningitis vaccines
  • yellow fever

If your GP is not signed up then your options are either a private travel vaccination clinic or a pharmacy offering travel healthcare services.

Time Frame

If possible, see your GP or a private travel clinic at least two or three months before you’re due to travel. This is because some vaccines need to be given well in advance to allow your body to develop immunity.

NHS for vaccines

For the latest up to date information check the NHS web site for details about what you may need for your destination.

Further reading here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/travel-vaccinations/jabs/

To find out which jabs you need for which country click here: https://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations

First Aid for Life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information. It is strongly advised that you attend a First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.


Emma Hammett

Emma Hammett is a qualified nurse, author and first aid trainer with over 30 years’ healthcare and teaching experience. Emma is the Founder of three multi-award-winning businesses; First Aid for Life, Onlinefirstaid.com, First Aid for Pets and her social cause StaySafe.support. She has published multiple books and is an acknowledged first aid expert and authority on accident prevention, health and first aid. Emma writes for numerous online and print publications and regularly features in the press, on the radio and on TV. She is the first aid expert for the British Dental Journal, British Journal of School Nursing, the Mail online and Talk Radio with Eamonn Holmes. She is a member of the Guild of Health Writers and Guild of Nurses.

2 Responses to Vaccinations for travellers, a guide to keeping you well when travelling abroad

  1. Hey Emma, You provide precious info, Thankyou for the sharing.

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