Are you finally planning the round-the-world trip you have been dreaming of for some time? Vaccinations can be easily forgotten when organising a trip, but you definitely do not want to ruin your trip (or indeed your life) by falling ill with a vaccine-preventable infection.
This basic guide can help you decide what to do before you go.
Plan well ahead
It is best to start planning long before you travel for some vaccinations involve a course of two or more injections at specified intervals, before the best possible levels of immunity are attained. You are therefore best placed to seek advice and leave plenty of time.
For an individual assessment you should visit your GP or a local travel clinic. Ideally, you’ll need to make the first appointment for your immunisations and other travel health advice about six to eight weeks before you go.
Particularly useful are the websites run by the National Travel Health Network and Centre: nathnac.org or the Scottish NHS travel information site: fitfortravel.nhs.uk. They also have up-to-date links to malaria maps and news about current or recent outbreaks of malaria, dengue fever and other dangerous diseases.
Get professional advice
Working out which immunisations you need doesn’t just depend on your destination, your doctor will also take into account:
- The length of your trip
- Whether you’re going to be travelling in rural areas or sticking to the resorts
- Whether you’re planning to work
- Which vaccinations you’ve had in the past
- Any medications you are taking
- Any allergies you have.
Not all vaccinations are available free on the NHS, even if they are recommended for travel to a certain area.
Common travel vaccinations
First, check that all your “regular” UK vaccinations are up to date. These vaccinations give you a good starting point and already cover a wide range of conditions.
Most travellers should get vaccinations for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B and Typhoid, especially if they are travelling for extended periods of time.
Visitors to specific countries often require more vaccinations, such as:
- Yellow fever
- Japanese Encephalitis
- Tick-Borne Encephalitis
Wherever you’re going, it’s a good idea to make sure your immunisations are recorded on an official certificate – your doctor or travel health centre will usually issue you with a record. This is useful for your own information; as well as knowing what you’re protected against (and when you’re due for a top-up); you will also be able to show it to any doctor treating you.
Most importantly, many countries require you to have a certificate showing you’ve been vaccinated against yellow fever before they will let you into the country.
Consult a doctor if:
As soon as you decide where you will be travelling to or eight weeks before you go
If your health is generally fragile.
If on return from you trip, symptoms such as a fever or being sick arise.