Getting Your Travel Jabs
Many travellers spend hours planning a trip away from home. We spend time organising the initial flight bookings and checking out passports and visas if necessary. Then there is accommodation, trips and transport, foreign currency, and, of course, that much-needed travel insurance policy. However, one in four travellers forgets to make a potentially life-saving trip to the doctor to be vaccinated against infectious diseases.
It really isn't worth skipping vaccinations. Infectious diseases can cause sickness, spoil a holiday, and even result in disability or death. There are so many bugs and other health risks within even some of the most favoured holiday destinations that it just is not worth the risk.
What Vaccinations Do I Need?
Many childhood vaccination programmes protect against a number of diseases including tetanus but will not cover most of the infectious diseases found overseas. There are a number of websites giving vaccination recommendations and a doctor or medical practice will also be able to advise. Make sure that you visit your doctor at least eight weeks before travel because some vaccinations need to be given well in advance.
The vaccinations required will depend on a number of factors. Take into account not just the country you are visiting but the region as well. The time of year you plan to travel is also relevant with some diseases being more common during the rainy season. Where you will be staying, whether it is in a rural or urban area is important, as is the length of stay. Backpackers may be more at risk of catching harmful diseases, as are those who plan to be outdoors a lot, for example trekking or working in rural areas. Aid workers are also more at risk.
Age and health is important. Some people may be more vulnerable to infections than others are, while some may not be able to receive some vaccinations due to existing medical conditions, particularly those suffering from autoimmune conditions or having cancer treatment. Working abroad, particularly in a medical environment may require additional vaccinations as will being in contact with animals.
Which Countries Require Vaccinations?
If you are only travelling to countries within northern and central Europe, North America, the UK, or Australia, then it is unlikely that you will need to have vaccinations. The following vaccinations are available to travellers from the UK.
- The polio vaccine may be required for those who have not received childhood vaccinations or recent boosters. Polio is currently circulating in India, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan and is a risk in other countries.
- The tetanus vaccine is only required for those who have not had a booster in the past ten years and plan to travel to areas outside Western Europe, North America and Australasia.
- The typhoid vaccine is recommended if travel plans include visiting the Indian subcontinent, South America, Asia and some countries in Africa.
Other vaccinations include those for cholera, Hepatitis A and B, yellow fever, rabies, and TB, amongst others.