You & Your Health: Travel Vaccinations

As we begin another year, many of us may be looking ahead to booking trips and holidays abroad, scouring the world map for new destinations to discover.

But before you pack your case or backpack, be sure to check which, if any, vaccinations are needed for travel.

The rise in worldwide travel, backpacking and adventurous tourism has seen a huge increase in people travelling to exotic locations across Asia, Africa, South America and the Middle East, particularly to those areas ‘off the beaten track.’

This leads to exposure to serious diseases that we do not encounter in the UK, meaning we have no natural immunity against. Some are also diseases which routine NHS immunisations don’t protect against.

Travel vaccinations are an essential part of holiday and travel planning. However, the risks are not restricted to tropical travel. Last year, tick bourne encephalitis (TBE) was reported in the UK. The risk of catching TBE is considered by Public Health England to be low or very low, even in ‘at risk’ groups such as forestry workers.

This example goes to show that you need to check which vaccinations are needed, no matter where in the world you are travelling to.

Many of the diseases can be found in areas with poor sanitation, so backpackers, aid workers and those staying in hostels or with limited access to medical attention are more at risk. As too are those with pre-existing medical conditions.

However, they are not just limited to rural areas; if you are visiting popular tourist destinations such as Turkey, Mexico or Thailand you may need multiple vaccinations or boosters before you travel.

Some diseases are insect bourne, such as malaria, dengue, yellow fever and the zika virus; whereas others are contracted from eating and drinking such as Hepatitis A and travellers’ diarrhoea. Diseases caused by poor hygiene conditions include Hepatitis B and Ebola, and others are acquired from animals such as rabies.

Vaccinations available include:

  • Cholera
  • Diptheria
  • Polio
  • Tetanus
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Tick Bourne Encephalitis
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Meningitis ACWY
  • Rabies
  • Typhoid
  • Yellow Fever

Malaria Prevention

No vaccination is available against Malaria. However, you can be protected through a combination of avoidance of mosquito bites and the use of anti-malarial tablets. The tablets must be started before entering the malarial zone and for some days or weeks after leaving. The recommended drug regimen varies by region.

Before travelling outside of the UK it is important to check whether there are any vaccinations you need. Most will need to be planned well in advance of your trip and some may need multiple doses for full protection.

Some countries may also require documentation or proof of vaccination before entry but it is always a good idea to take this with you along with your insurance documents and any medications.

At The Good Measure Pharmacy Travel Clinic, they now offer a full range of travel vaccinations and can advise on the up-to-date recommendations if you are unsure.

Remember it may be the last thing on your mind when planning your holiday but it is crucial to check, after all you could end up with a souvenir from your holiday that nobody wants!

So please be aware and stay safe.