A guide to holiday vaccinations
Going abroad on holiday is one of life’s great pleasures. Sunning yourself on a beautiful beach, experiencing the wildlife on an exotic hike, taking a dip in a crystal clear ocean - however you choose to spend your holiday, you want to make the most of it. That’s why it’s important to make sure that you have all of the stressful little niggles covered before you leave the UK, giving you more time to enjoy your trip when you arrive.
One thing that it is important to think about before you leave the country is vaccinations. Travelling across the globe can bring you into contact with infections and diseases which may not affect us here in the UK, so it’s important to be prepared. Here we’ve rounded up a list of some of the most common holiday vaccinations.
Hepatitis A is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus. Travellers who visit parts of the world with poor levels of sanitation are at risk. This particularly applies if they eat food prepared by someone who has the infection and hasn't washed their hands properly, or if they drink contaminated water for example. You can also get the disease by eating raw or undercooked shellfish which has come from contaminated water.
Hepatitis A is found around the world, but the areas most at risk include South and Central America, northern Africa, the Middle East, some parts of the Far East and the Indian subcontinent such as India, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Cost of vaccine: For those who need it, the NHS advise that the hepatitis A vaccine is usually free.
Typhoid fever is a bacterial condition found throughout the world. However, it is most common in countries where there is poor sanitation and hygiene issues, including limited access to clean water. According to the NHS, it is advised that you make sure you’re vaccinated against typhoid if you’re going to be staying with local people, or working with local people. If you are going to be in a high risk country for a long period of time then the vaccine is also particularly important.
Areas that are at risk from typhoid include Africa, Central America and the Middle East, as well as South and Southeast Asia.
Cost of vaccine: The typhoid fever vaccination is usually free on the NHS from GP surgeries. If you choose to visit a private travel clinic the vaccine could cost around £30.
Yellow fever is a viral infection spread by a specific type of infected mosquito. Typically, these infected mosquitos are active during the day, and can be found in both rural and urban areas. This disease cannot be passed from person to person like some other travel-related diseases. Vaccinations against yellow fever provide protection for 95-100% of those who receive it, offering this cover for at least 10 years.
Areas at risk from yellow fever include parts of the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, and South America.
Cost of vaccine: On the NHS the yellow fever vaccination is not typically free. On average a single vaccination cost around £60.
Tetanus, although rare, can be a serious condition. It is caused by bacteria getting into a wound, and can be fatal if not treated.
Tetanus can be found throughout the world, so it is a good idea to make sure that your vaccinations are up to date. It is worth getting in touch with your GP if you have not been fully vaccinated before, or if your last vaccine was more than 10 years ago, and you are planning on travelling abroad.
Cost of vaccine: A tetanus vaccination is part of the NHS childhood vaccination programme, with a full course requiring five injections. Contact your GP for advice if you are not sure how much of the course you have received, and they will be able to advise you on what you require.
Rabies is a viral infection caused by being bitten or scratched by an infected animal. This can be a serious illness, which attacks the brain and the nervous system. Although it is fatal in most cases, vaccinations and prompt treatment after exposure can help to prevent deaths.
Rabies vaccines are recommended for people who are going to an area where rabies is common for a month or longer. You should also have the vaccination if you plan on doing activities that may put you at risk in a potentially vulnerable country, such as trekking.
Cost of vaccine: The rabies vaccine is not available on the NHS, with the complete course of three injections costing from around £120 to £170.
If you are planning on travelling abroad then it is a good idea to make sure that you’re aware of any potential medical requirements, such as ensuring that you're up to date on all of your vaccinations. Contact your GP for advice, or visit the NHS Fit For Travel website for more information.