vaccinations before travelling abroad

What To Know About Vaccinations Before Travelling Abroad

Proving your vaccination status for COVID-19 remains a requirement for entering many countries around the world. But it’s important to remember there are vaccination requirements — both mandatory and highly recommended — for other infections, depending on where you plan to travel.  

Knowing what you should have in terms of vaccinations before leaving the UK remains a crucial consideration for avoiding health setbacks while on your travels.

COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements for Travel

Even when visiting countries that have lifted their travel restrictions, the CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends ensuring you stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations. This includes additional doses for individuals who are immunocompromised and booster doses for those eligible.

Everyone aged over 12 is eligible for a booster five months after receiving their primary vaccination series. Those over 75 are currently eligible for the spring 2022 second booster four months after receiving their initial booster.

COVID-19 vaccination requirements vary depending on where you plan to travel, so check foreign travel advice before making your trip.

Those residing in England can demonstrate their COVID-19 vaccination status by accessing their NHS COVID Pass via the NHS website or app.

Mandatory and Highly Recommended Vaccinations

Aside from the COVID-19 vaccination, the only other mandatory vaccination requirement before entering certain countries is an inoculation against yellow fever. So-named because of the jaundice symptoms it causes in skin and eyes, yellow fever is a viral infection mainly transmitted by certain species of day-biting mosquito.

Yellow fever is most commonly found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South and Central America, where these mosquitoes are present. Fortunately, with a few particular exceptions, one dose of the vaccine appears to provide life-long immunity against the disease.

Several countries — including Uruguay and Kenya — require a yellow fever vaccination.

Vaccinations against hepatitis A and typhoid fever are recommended if you are travelling to parts of the world where basic sanitation and food hygiene are poor.

Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood and bodily fluids. It is common throughout the world but especially prevalent in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and southern and eastern Europe. If you are travelling in these regions and partake in activities that increase your risk of contracting Hepatitis B, vaccination is recommended.

Vaccinations Recommended for Longer Stays

For those travelling long term (usually over a month) in risk areas and those who are likely to be in close contact with a local population in those areas, vaccinations against meningococcal meningitis and Japanese encephalitis are often recommended.

Vaccination against rabies is advised for those travelling to areas where the infection is prevalent, but especially those likely to find themselves in locations where it may be difficult to quickly access the correct medical care.  

The BCG vaccination that prevents tuberculosis (TB) is recommended for unvaccinated individuals under the age of 16 living or working for more than three months in a country where TB is common.

You can search for the country you’re travelling to on TravelHealthPro, which lists any risk levels for infection and recommended vaccinations.   

Check Your Routine Vaccinations Are up to Date

In certain other countries, outbreaks of diseases such as diphtheria and measles are relatively common. Vaccination against measles, mumps and rubella is delivered as a single three-in-one (MMR) vaccine in the UK. 

Similarly, diphtheria, tetanus and polio are combined in a single vaccine in the UK. Both are offered during childhood, but it’s recommended you check that you and any others you’re travelling with have up-to-date vaccinations before departure.

Check You’re Safe to Get Vaccinated

Of course, there are instances where you need to check if it’s OK for you or your family members to receive a vaccine. A travel health risk assessment before departure is recommended for:

  • People with weakened immune systems
  • Those on medication for long-term conditions
  • Pregnant or breast-feeding women
  • The elderly
  • Children.

Getting the Vaccinations You Need before You Leave

If you’re not sure what vaccinations you need, head to a private walk-in clinic, where you’ll be able to book an appointment with an expert GP who will advise you on which vaccinations you will need before you travel and which are highly recommended. 

You can then receive the vaccinations you require, administered by professionals at the same premises, to provide peace of mind that you’re fully prepared for your trip — and safe to enjoy your travels.

Until next time.

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