The most important thing when travelling is to make sure that you and your family are safe and well. Its vital to think about any travel vaccinations you may need well in advance especially if you are travelling to a developing country. Make sure you visit your GP at least six to eight weeks before you intend to travel to discuss if any vaccinations are needed. We have also included some useful information in this short guide regarding where and when to get your travel jabs and some common travel-related infections to be aware of.
Where and when to get your travel jabs
Vaccinations are not required for all travel destinations or every time you travel abroad but, seeing as some vaccinations need to be given well in advance so that they can work properly, Its important to check with your GP. http://www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations
The first thing to do is to phone or visit your GP or practice nurse for advice on whether your existing UK jabs such as polio and tetanus are up-to-date. Your GP or practice nurse may also be able to offer you some further advice on vaccinations for the area you are travelling to. Your GP or practice nurse can give you a booster of your UK jabs if needed and, if you require any further travel jabs, they may be able to do this either free on the NHS or for a small charge.
You could also visit a local private travel vaccination clinic for your UK boosters and other travel jabs. Certain vaccinations, such as yellow fever, are only available at specialist centres.
Common travel-related infections
Some infections such as polio, tetanus and diphtheria are routinely vaccinated against in the UK so all you need to check is that you have received the vaccination before or if you need a booster. However there are some diseases that are not found in the UK so if you are travelling to a part of the world where these are found then you need to arrange a vaccination in advance of your holiday. Below is a list of some diseases to be aware of and where they are most commonly found.
Cholera is more common during floods and the rainy season which is why it is prevalent in Africa, the Indian sub-continent and Asia. Spread through contaminated water and food, vaccination for cholera is only recommended if you are travelling to a high-risk area and can not take effective precautions.
Spread by infected mosquito bites, yellow fever is a serious disease that occurs in some countries in tropical Africa and South America. Some countries require a proof of vaccination certificate against yellow fever before they let you enter the country so make sure you check whether you will need it.
Carried by animals and spread through bites or licks on broken skin, rabies occurs in many countries but pay extra care and attention if you are travelling to Africa, Asia or Central and South America. You should certainly consider getting vaccinated if planning to take part in high-risk activities such as running or cycling where you are more likely to pick up cuts and scrapes.
Another infection that is spread by bites from infected mosquitoes and is present across vast areas of Asia. If you are planning an extended stay (at least a month) in an affected country during the transmission season then you should definitely look at getting vaccinated.
As the name suggests this is a viral infection spread by bites from infected ticks. If you are travelling to certain areas of central and Western Europe and Asia then vaccination is recommended. This is especially true if you are planning on camping or working in heavily forested regions of countries affected by the disease. Ensuring that you and your family are correctly vaccinated for the area you are travelling to is as important a part of travelling as packing your bags or taking out holiday insurance. After all no one wants to get ill unnecessarily and, with the right forward planning, getting the right vaccinations is quick and easy.
Date published 01/12/2011
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