You and Your Health: Travel Vaccines

With Good Measure Pharmacy, Rotherham

As summer arrives, holiday season kicks in and some of us will be jetting off abroad.

But if you’re bound for a tropical destination, protect yourself against any unwanted souvenirs – tropical diseases.

Tropical diseases are those found in countries around the equator where the climate is hot and humid. For most people, cases will be mild and leave you feeling unwell for a few days. But if you have a pre-existing condition, you’re at a higher risk of complications.

Many people think tropical diseases only exist in developing countries or areas of poverty and poor sanitation. But there are varying degrees of risk in countries across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America, the Middle East, and Oceania.

Risk increases if you’re travelling off the beaten track, staying in hostels, visiting animal sanctuaries, going jungle trekking or open-water swimming, or drink unsafe water.

So whether you’re backpacking in Thailand, having a beach holiday in Bali, going on safari in Kenya, cruising the Caribbean, or volunteering in Africa, make sure you check the health advice of the country you’re travelling to.

Many community pharmacies offer a travel clinic where you can speak to a pharmacist about what vaccinations you’ll need before travelling. For some vaccines such as yellow fever, not everyone can have them, so it’s important you speak to a health professional beforehand to check your eligibility.

It is recommended that you’re seen at least six weeks before your trip to ensure that you have had all doses needed before travelling. Travel vaccines aren’t available on the NHS so there will be a charge for each vaccine.

Here at Good Measure, we offer the following travel vaccines at our Parkgate-based pharmacy.

Japanese Encephalitis

This life-threatening infection is spread by mosquitoes and is mostly found in rural areas of Asian countries like China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. Risk is higher in rainy seasons or when visiting rural areas like marshlands or rice fields.

Initial symptoms are flu-like, but encephalitis can spread to the brain causing more serious symptoms such as severe headaches, confusion, paralysis or seizures.

The vaccine is two injections 28 days apart – the second one at least a week before you leave.


Rabies is contracted from an animal bite or scratch, usually from dogs but can be other animals like bats and foxes. It’s recommended you stay away from animals while travelling, especially strays.

Symptoms include numbness or tingling where you were bitten or scratched, hallucinations, difficulty swallowing or breathing and paralysis. It’s almost always fatal once symptoms start and there are 59,000 deaths from rabies worldwide each year.

The vaccine is three injections over a 28-day period.


Tetanus is spread through spores found in soil and is prevalent throughout the world. If it contaminates a wound, it can get into the blood stream and attack the nerves of your brain and spinal cord.

Symptoms include a locked jaw, stiff neck, abnormal breathing, and difficulty swallowing.

Most people are vaccinated by tetanus as children, but you may need a booster if you’re going to an area where medical help is limited or it’s been over ten years since your last dose.


This is spread through infected food or water and is mainly in areas of poor sanitation or lack of clean drinking water.

Symptoms include fever, headache, joint pain, constipation and a rash.

You should have the vaccination one month before travelling and will need a booster every three years.

Yellow fever

Yellow fever is spread by mosquitoes that bite during the daytime. It’s only found in parts of Africa and Central and South America.

Symptoms are fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, cough and diarrhoea, and usually last three to four days.

If you are visiting a country with yellow fever risk, you’ll need a certificate to enter to prove you’ve been vaccinated. The vaccination must be taken ten days before travel but offers life-long protection. The certificate will be valid for life.

Not everyone can have the yellow fever vaccine, so you’ll need to complete a checklist beforehand to make sure it is safe for you to have it.

What about malaria?

Malaria is perhaps the most well-known of all the tropical diseases. There are around 1,500 cases annually in travellers from the UK. However, there is currently no vaccine for it.

It is spread through mosquitoes and symptoms are similar to yellow fever.

To reduce your risk of contracting malaria, you can take a course of antimalarial medication a few weeks before travel.

Most importantly, you should protect yourself against being bitten by a mosquito. Use insect repellent with at least 50 percent DEET and make sure to reapply regularly after applying sunscreen. Sleep under a mosquito net and wear long loose clothing where possible.

Find out the health advice for any country you’re travelling at or