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What are the main travel immunisations?

Updated on November 12, 2008

If you're planning to travel, you may need to think about your travel immunisations.

Some injections should be given a few weeks before you travel, so try to plan well in advance. Check with your GP, local health clinic or travel clinic to get up-to-date information on the immunisations you'll need. If you decide to go away at short notice it's still worth having your immunisations - any protection is better than none!

Listed below are the most common travel immunisations, but there are others which you may be advised to have particularly if you'll be travelling rough and staying in rural areas. You should also check with your doctor whether you'll need immunisations against any of the following:

  • meningitis
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • tick-borne encephalitis
  • rabies

Hepatitis A and typhoid fever

Both diseases are spread by eating or drinking contaminated food or water

immunisations are recommended if you're travelling to countries with poor sanitation or hygiene.

Two vaccines are available which protect against hepatitis A:

Immunoglobulin and hepatitis A vaccine. Immunoglobulin provides only short-term protection. Your GP or travel vaccine clinic will be able to advise which is appropriate for you. Typhoid immunisation lasts for three years.

Cholera

  • Causes diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach cramps
  • prevented by taking basic hygiene precautions
  • a vaccine is available but it isn't very effective, so not recommended for most travellers.

Although immunisation gives excellent protection, it's still important to take the following basic precautions when travelling:

  • be careful about what you eat and drink
  • wash your hands thoroughly before handling food and after going to the toilet.

Hepatitis B

immunisation may be recommended if you're travelling, or working, for long periods of time in developing countries where you may need medical/dental treatment

Whenever possible, avoid having medical/dental treatment in developing countries. If you're travelling for any length of time, carry your own medical kit containing sterile needles in case you need urgent treatment.

Yellow fever

  • a serious infection found mainly in Central Africa and Central/South America
  • spread by mosquitoes
  • official certificate required by some countries as proof that you've been immunised before you'll be allowed to enter the country
  • vaccine also recommended, though not officially required, for some other countries
  • yellow fever immunisation gives protection for up to ten years.

Tuberculosis

  • commonly known as TB
  • on the increase in parts of Asia, Africa and South America
  • you'll probably have had a BCG immunisation at school - if you're in any doubt check with your doctor.

Malaria

  • one of the most serious health problems in tropical areas
  • kill over one million people a year worldwide
  • as yet there is no immunisation for malaria
  • if you're travelling to, or even stopping off in, a hi-risk area you'll need to take anti-malaria tablets
  • different types of drugs are available- see your doctor or travel clinic for advice.

Anti-malarial drugs are very important but they don't give 100% protection. The best way to avoid getting the disease is to avoid getting bitten - easier said than done! These simple tips should help:

  • use mosquito repellent
  • sleep under a mosquito net
  • cover up your arms and legs in the evening and at night.

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    • profile image

      Brienna 

      9 years ago

      Would you need to have an immunisation to travel to England?

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