We normally don’t think about Travel vaccinations when we plan for an exciting journey abroad, especially to new and exotic places. However, travel vaccines should be one of the first things on our to do list as some vaccines need up to 8 weeks for them to be administered and to become effective. Travel Vaccinations can help travellers like you to stay safe and protected from serious diseases found in other parts of the world.
In this article, we will look at what travel vaccines are and how they function, the importance and availability of travel vaccines near you. We will also shade some light on the questions of what travel vaccinations would you need for your particular trip and when should you start thinking about them. There will also be information about some common diseases found abroad and what vaccinations are required for some popular destinations. Although we try to provide as much information as possible about travel health here, the subject is so broad that we can’t simply do justice to it here.
The best course of action would be to get in touch with your local travel health experts at Your local pharmacy or GP.
A vaccine is a certain type of medicine that trains the body’s immune system so that it can fight a disease it has not come into contact with before. Vaccination is a preventative measure, rather than treatment for a disease once you have caught it. The vaccines that are designed to provide immunity against diseases found in other countries around the world are called travel vaccines.
This Short animation video by oxford vaccine group illustrates how vaccines work.
Vaccination is simply the administration of vaccines.
Why Should I have travel vaccines?
Firstly, when you travel abroad, you may be exposed to infectious diseases like yellow fever, hepatitis B that the routine NHS immunisation schedule doesn’t provide protection against. Hence you will need to get appropriate travel vaccinations to stay protected during your entire trip.
Travel Health Insurance requirement: Secondly, your travel insurance policy requires you to have the required inoculations before traveling.
You can find travel clinics near you from here.
The local options could be your local pharmacy or you local GP practice. Your local pharmacy will see you straight away on walk-in basis or provide you with same day appointment whereas GP practice might not be offering all the travel vaccines and may need you to make an appointment with a nurse many days or even weeks in advance.
The travel vaccines that you would need for your particular trip will depend on your destination, your activities there and the time of the year. Your travel health care professional will be able to advise you on this or you can check it for yourself on getjab.co.uk or NHS fit for travel website.
It is advisable to start thinking about your travel vaccines as soon as practically possible. Vaccines take time to develop immunity in your body (become effective) and some vaccines need to be administered in a number of doses over several weeks period. Vaccines like rabies requires a month to complete the course.
Some vaccines last for a few years whereas others last for life. You need to speak with your travel health professional about whether you are still covered or would need a booster. You can read more about how long different vaccines last on Tropical Medical Bureau website .
Malaria is a life threatening disease spread by mosquitos in some parts of the world.
The cause of Malaria is Plasmodium parasite. It is neither a virus nor a bacterium but a single celled parasite that multiples itself inside human red blood cells. The parasite can be spread to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes.
Antimalarials are tablets taken before you travel to reduce the risk of malaria infection. It is a preventative measure.
There is an ABCD approach to malaria prevention as shown in this short video by Valneva.
Prescription drugs could be used to cure malaria.
As there are different types of malaria, the treatment duration and drug type will depend on what type of malaria is being cured and when the person was infected.
The parasite that causes malaria develops in the human red blood cells and also in the intestine of female Anopheles mosquitoes. You can study the full malaria lifecycle on malariavaccine.org website.
1. Malaria is a deadly disease transmitted by mosquito bite. Though it is both preventable and curable.
2. There were an estimated 2019 million cases of malaria found in around 90 countries in the year 2017.
You can find more facts about malaria on World Health Organisation website.
Yellow fever vaccines are given to protect against the yellow fever disease. Yellow fever is a viral infection caused by the mosquito bite. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, nausea, muscle pain and headache. It can occasionally be fatal.
The vaccines provide immunity against it which needs to be given atleast 10 days before traveling. It is given in injection form in the upper arm. The vaccine lasts for life time.
Some countries require a yellow fever vaccination certificate. Your certificate is provided to you by the travel clinic and becomes valid 10 days after the jab is administered.
Side effects are rare. Normal side effects could include injection site soreness, pain and headache.
The cost of Yellow fever vaccines vary from clinic to clinic.
Dengue fever is caused by virus which is transmitted to humans by mosquito bite infected with the virus. These mosquitos usually operate during day time.
The symptoms are fever, headache, eye pain, joint pain and rush. Though majority of the infections are symptoms free. There is no vaccine available for travellers. You can find out more about dengue fever on NHS Fit for Travel website.
Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for travellers to provide immunity for Hepatitis A disease. The disease is caused by virus and it infects human liver. It spreads through poo of infected human being. It is common in parts of the world where sanitation is poor.
It can turn fatal in case of liver failure, however, it is mostly not that serious and patients make full recovery within a few months.
The symptoms normally appear a month after being infected. Symptoms include tiredness, not well feeling, fever, joint and muscle pain, lack of appetite, feeling sick, itchy skin and tummy pain, urine darkness, pale looking stools, skin and eye white turning yellow.
Occasionally, the injection spot can turn sore, red and can get hard but only for a short time. Sometimes even a lump can appear which is not painful and disappears on its own.
Very rare side effects could be feeling of tiredness, not well feeling, headache, lack of appetite and sick feeling.
Travel vaccination requirements are different for every country. Although we can’t go through every country requirements here, we will look at some of the most popular destinations for travel vaccinations.
You may be travelling to India to see world renowned monuments like Taj Mahal or to enjoy its interesting wildlife and beautiful beaches or may simply have friends, family or business to attend to, what ever the reason for your travel, staying safe and protected from infectious diseases should be your priority.
Additional vaccines to consider for some travellers include Hepatitis B, Rabies, and Japanese encephalitis. The consideration for these additional vaccines will depend on the medical history, the planned activities for the trip and parts of the country to be visited.
If you are entering India from a yellow fever country, then yellow fever certificate is a requirement.
Consult your local travel Health clinic to establish exactly which vaccines you would need and if certificate would be required for your journey. Also seek advice on whether you would need antimalarials, especially if you are travelling to north eastern states like Assam and Orissa.
More than a million people from Britain visit Thailand every year. It has beautiful long beaches, tropical rainforests, high mountains and paddy fields. There are certain diseases found in Thailand which could infect British travellers.
Recommended vaccines for Thailand include Hepatitis A, Tetanus and possibly yellow fever.
Hepatitis A: It is a liver infection which is spread through contaminated water and food. Hepatitis A vaccine is injected in one go.
Tetanus: This is caused when wounds, cuts and burns get contaminated. It is given in 5 injection doses. Afterwards, A booster is enough if you haven’t had one in ten years.
Yellow Fever: This is caused by mosquito bite. Certificate is required if you are entering from a yellow fever country or even if have transited through the airport of such country (for 12 hours plus)
There is a low risk of malaria in some rural parts of Thailand. Hence taking antimalarials is advisable only if you are expecting to be spending considerable time in such regions of the country.
Other diseases in some mosquito hotspots include Japanese encephalitis. Though the risk is very low, but if you are spending considerable time in these areas then vaccines could be considered. Again talk to your pharmacist at Dukes pharmacy for professional advice.
Cholera risk is low.
If you have planned to attend Hajj or perform Umrah, you will need to get certain vaccinations before you travel. A meningococcal (ACWY) vaccination is a mandatory visa requirement for travelling to Saudi Arabia for Hajj or Umrah. A conjugate ACW135 meningococcal vaccine should have been administered not more than five years and not less than 10 days prior to entry in to Saudi Arabia. It is important to document the type of vaccine [e.g. conjugate vaccine], on the vaccination record. Saudi Arabia health ministry states that the conjugate vaccines (Menveo or Nimenrix) confer protection for ‘at least five years’. Failure to document the type of vaccine will result in the certificate being valid for three years only.
It is essential to seek professional travel health advice well in advance of your planned journey. Read the latest advice for safe travel for the country you are travelling to on Gov.uk and TravelHealthPro.
Try to stay safe from mosquito bites by carrying and wearing long sleeves clothing and trousers to cover up skin. Carry and use insect repellent on exposed areas of the body and at night sleep under mosquito net. Essentially prepare a Travel Health Essentials Kit.
Start your antimalarials treatment before you set off to any country with risk of malaria.
Also follow best hygiene practices even so more when abroad.