travel vaccinations: getting the right ones for your holiday

a woman stands on a rope bridge safe in the knowledge that her travel vaccinations have protected her

There’s no better feeling than packing up your bags, skipping down to the airport and spending the next four hours being patted down by an extremely surly security guard. Before this can happen though, it’s important to get hold of those all-important travel vaccinations. After all, nobody wants a luxury holiday ruined by a less than luxurious hospital visit. At Qured we know that getting those travel jabs can be just a ‘little’ confusing. Fortunately, we’ve put together this rather handy guide to help you find what kind of vaccines you’ll be needing before you go.

 

Staying in the UK

A great way to save money, many people choose to spend their holidays enjoying the three days of summer the UK has to offer. While you don’t need any extra vaccinations to enjoy the coasts of Cornwall, the mountains of Scotland or the smog of London, you should ensure that you are up to date with your existing jabs and boosters such as tetanus and polio. If in doubt your GP should have a record of your entire vaccination history.

 

Europe

For those wanting to sample the fine foods, majestic sun and glorious populace of Europe, most UK routine vaccinations will be absolutely fine. Although scare stories about outbreaks of rabies have made the news in recent years, most countries in Europe are officially declared free of the disease. Notable exceptions are very rare cases in the former eastern bloc. Visitors to these countries should also discuss whether the typhoid vaccine is worthwhile for them.

 

The Middle East

With ancient cities, a rich culture and major religious significance it comes as little surprise that the Middle East welcomes millions of curious visitors each year. To help visitors make the most of these sites the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends the Hepatitis A vaccine for travellers to all regions, otherwise conditions should be covered by routine UK vaccinations.

It’s important to note that those travelling to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj or Umrah will be required to produce a certificate of vaccination against meningococcal disease, a kind of meningitis. This is covered by the Meningitis B vaccine recently recommended for newborn children in the UK. As most people reading this won’t be newborn children, it’s therefore worth checking your records before you apply for a visa.

 

Central Asia & the Indian Subcontinent  

India is a cultural gem, a nation of many vibrant traditions, sights and tastes to explore. Indeed, many travellers recommend spending multiple months in the country if you even want to scratch its surface. It’s also home to 1.3 billion people, all of whom will remind you of the importance of Hepatitis A vaccination and tetanus boosters. Typhoid vaccine, rabies vaccine and diphtheria boosters are also strongly advised if you want to avoid cutting your trip short.

Elsewhere in Central Asia the picture changes. Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have a similar disease profile to India and the WHO recommends the same vaccinations. Meanwhile anyone looking to tread the quieter roads of the former Soviet republics should be aware of the recent resurgence of tuberculosis and diphtheria in these regions and take appropriate preventative measures. Also be aware that the Kazakhstan prohibits the importation of sleeping pills and painkillers, it’s best to leave these at home.

 

South East Asia

Anyone wanting to find themselves in South East Asia should probably find themselves a GP first. Depending on where you head, and whether you go in the dry or rainy season, travel vaccinations will vary from country to country and even between regions.

The main vaccinations you should consider no matter where you go are for Hepatitis A, largely transmitted through contaminated food or water, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis and Rabies. The latter is not uncommon in the region and can be spread through stray animals and cute cuddly monkeys. Contrary to popular belief you don’t need to be bitten to get the disease – sometimes a lick is enough. All things considered, spending a day with a sore arm is definitely worth it.

Another myth is that yellow fever is a required vaccine for South East Asia, however the region is largely free of the tropical disease. Instead, it’s mainly found in Africa and the Caribbean.

 

Oceania

Although Australia is famed for the sheer variety of wildlife that can kill you, the chances are diseases won’t. One exception is the mosquitoes found on the Islands of Torres Strait and the Cape York Peninsula, which are known to carry Japanese Encephalitis all year round. The JE vaccine is therefore highly recommended when visiting these areas.

Once again, Hepatitis A is highly recommended when visiting the region, particularly any of the picturesque islands found across the Pacific. The exact recommendations vary from island to island.

 

Africa

Before migrating south for the adventure of a lifetime, it’s important to have an exact plan of which countries you’ll be passing through and during which seasons, allowing you to plan for regional dangers. Generally speaking, the Hepatitis A vaccine (spot a theme here) is recommended for anyone travelling to the continent, as are rabies, typhoid and yellow fever. The latter should come with a certificate as this may be needed to gain a visa and cross the border.

Although Malaria is a large risk, scientists have yet to come up with a convincing vaccine – with current attempts only 26 – 50% effective. Antimalarials are therefore vital for any traveller, even if you’ve had the correct travel vaccinations.

 

South America

Rainforests, mountains and miles of pristine sands. Why not top it all off with a disease-free experience? The first thing you need to know is that yellow fever vaccine is compulsory for all visitors, no matter which country you choose. Other recommendations are Hepatitis A, typhoid, rabies and meningitis B vaccines.

Although the zika virus has become a talking point around the world, it actually carries little risk to most people. However be careful if pregnant, as infection can lead to congenital zika syndrome, a condition that can lead to severe harm to the unborn baby. Unfortunately, there is no vaccine available for zika at the moment. Also be aware that there is moderate malaria risk around the Amazon basin. There is no risk in Chile or Uruguay.

 

Central America and the Caribbean

In a common theme, vaccinations for yellow fever, Hepatitis A and typhoid are recommended for travellers to the Caribbean. Haiti has struggled with a widespread cholera epidemic, making cholera vaccination an absolute necessity.

The picture is similar in central America, substituting cholera for the rabies vaccine. Like many countries, a certificate of yellow fever immunisation with have to be produced if you have recently visited another country known to be a hotspot.

 

North America

Fortunately, UK routine vaccinations allow you to travel across North America safely, with the exception of Mexico – where Hepatitis A and typhoid travel vaccinations are advised for short stay visitors. It is recommended that tetanus boosters are kept up to date before you travel.

 

Antarctica

Bizarrely, it is recommended that you get vaccinations for Hepatitis A, pneumonia and influenza before zipping up your parka and heading to the untouched wilderness of Antarctica. You should also be careful not to contract “happy feet”, an unfortunate condition that involves joining a penguin colony and being unable to control your limbs.

 

Getting travel vaccinations  

Getting hold of the right travel vaccinations can be a bit of an ordeal. Normally you should see your GP at least 8 weeks before travel, where they’ll be able to tell you exactly what you’ll need and when. Sometimes they’ll book you back at a later date, but for more ‘exotic’ vaccines you may need to visit a specialist travel clinic.

If all of this sounds a little bit intimidating don’t worry! You can now book affordable travel vaccinations in your own home, whenever, wherever. All you need is to press one of the two buttons below to get a GP consultation at your own convenience, followed by simple, quick visits to get the right protection for whatever journey you’re going on. So what are you waiting for? That security guard’s ready and waiting.

 

 

 

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