An Easy Guide to Holiday Vaccinations

We all look forward to going on holiday, but getting ill while you're abroad can really spoil things. If you need vaccinations to protect you from infection when you're travelling to its important you don't skip them. They will protect you against diseases like yellow fever, typhoid and hepatitis A.

Do I need a vaccination?

You may not need vaccinations to travel abroad; it will depend on where you're going. If you're not sure whether you need vaccinations for your trip, you can go to the NHS 'Fit for Travel' website which has an interactive map and comprehensive list of which vaccinations you'll need. You can also contact The National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) which has a similar easy-to-use service.

REMEMBER: Even if you don't need a jab, you might need a certificate (ICVP) to prove you've had certain vaccines before. The World Health Organisation's website can give you more information about this.

If you do need to be vaccinated before your trip you should get in touch with your GP or practice nurse who can tell you if your existing UK vaccinations are up-to-date. Even if you're sure you are up-to-date it can be useful to speak to them about general health while you travel and for advice about protecting yourself from malaria.

Where do I get vaccinated?

If you do need vaccinations your GP or practice nurse might be able to do them for you, as well as any UK boosters you need. There are also private travel vaccination clinics you can contact. Either way, make sure you book an appointment in plenty of time, ideally four to six weeks before your trip to give the vaccination time to get working.

Will I have to pay?

Some vaccinations are available free on the NHS because of the increased risk they pose to the public if they're brought into the country. You'll be able to get the following free of charge:

  • Polio (given as a tetanus, diphtheria and polio booster)
  • Typhoid
  • The first dose of hepatitis A
  • Cholera

Many GPs will also give you the second dose of hepatitis A or the combined hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccine free of charge but ask first to be sure. Even if a vaccination is recommended for travel it might not be available for free. You may have to pay around £50 per dose for the following:

  • Meningococcal meningitis
  • Hepatitis B
  • Yellow fever
  • Rabies, tuberculosis
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Tick-borne encephalitis

It's worth finding out how much you'll have to pay for injections when you start planning your trip.

How long do they last?

Protection from vaccinations can last anywhere from a few months to several years depending what it's for. has information about each type of vaccination including any side effects. These range from mild skin reactions to headaches and stomach upsets. Severe reactions to vaccinations are extremely rare though.

What happens if I don't get vaccinated?

While vaccinations might be unpleasant and there's no legal requirement to get them you're risking some pretty nasty diseases if you don't.

If you do become ill with a disease which you should have been vaccinated for, you could also find that your travel insurance won't cover you. In order for your travel insurance to be fully valid you should have all recommended vaccinations for the country you are visiting.

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