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,
- staying in hostels
- 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)
- hepatitis A
You have to pay for travel vaccinations for
- 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.
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.