Routine Travel Vaccinations
Do you think you need routine travel vaccinations? If so, which do you need and which can you do without? You’ll find out when you make an appointment with us to chat about your travel arrangements and destination/s.
It’s important to an appointment in good time, ideally at least six weeks before you go. Bear in mind you’ll probably need a second appointment, when you’ll actually be given your shots and doses. This second appointment should be at least 2 weeks before your departure date, to give the vaccines the time they need to do their work.
We’ll provide the latest expert advice about which jabs and doses you need for your particular destination and personal circumstances. Here’s a general overview of the routine travel vaccines you might need.
The 14 most common travel vaccinations
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
- Japanese encephalitis
- Meningococcal meningitis
- MMR (measles, mumps and rubella)
- Tick-borne encephalitis
- Yellow fever
Details about common holiday vaccinations
Cholera vaccination – Recommended if you’re going to a place where the disease is common or there’s an outbreak, especially aid workers and people who travel to remote areas where there’s no access to medical facilities.
The vaccine usually comes in 2 doses, as a drink, 1-6 weeks apart. Children age 2-6 need a third dose 1-6 weeks after the second. You should take your final dose at least a week before you leave. If you’ve been vaccinated in the past, you’ll need a booster.
Diphtheria vaccination – A three-in-one vaccination against diphtheria, polio and tetanus is given to all UK children. You should only need a booster if you’re going to a place where diphtheria is widespread and your last vaccination was more than a decade ago.
Hepatitis A vaccination – This is recommended if you’re going to a place where hepatitis A is widespread, particularly if you’ll be staying there for some time or going to an area with particularly poor sanitation.
You can expect a single vaccination, an injection, with an optional booster 6-12 months later. This’ll offer protection for around 20 years. You should have the first injection at least two weeks before you leave, although it can be given as late as the day you depart.
You can also get jabs offering combined protection against hepatitis A and hepatitis B or typhoid , a good idea if you’re travelling to a risky area.
Hepatitis B vaccination – This is highly recommended if you’re going to an area where the disease is common, and/or if your personal circumstances put you at extra risk. Unprotected sex, injecting drugs and playing contact sports all increase the risk.
The vaccination involves 3 injections, sometimes spread over six months, sometimes over a much shorter period.
Japanese encephalitis vaccination – Recommended if you’re staying at least a month in a place where it’s widespread, particularly when you’re going in the rainy season, visiting rural areas, cycling, hiking or camping.
It’s worth bearing in mind that Japanese encephalitis is rare in Japan itself, thanks to mass immunisation.
Vaccination consists of two jabs, the second 28 days after the first. In an idea world you’ll have the second dose a month before you travel.
Meningococcal meningitis vaccination – Recommended if you’re travelling to an at-risk area or the things you’ll be doing there put you at extra risk, for example staying in a vulnerable area for some time. Everyone travelling to Saudi Arabia for the Hajj or Umrah pilgrimages must show proof they’ve been vaccinated.
The ACWY vaccine you’ll be offered is a single jab and you should have it 2-3 weeks before you leave, even if you already had a meningitis C vaccination as a child.
MMR vaccination – This protects against measles, mumps and rubella and it’s given to every UK child as 2 injections, one at 12-13 months old and the other when they start school. If you haven’t had them, MMR vaccination is a good move if you’re going to an area where the diseases are common or there’s an outbreak.
Adults can take their two doses one month apart and children can have them three months apart.
Polio vaccination – This protects against diphtheria, polio and tetanus and is given to every child in Britain. Boosters are only important if you’re going to a place where the disease is common and you were vaccinated more than a decade ago.
Rabies vaccination – If you’re going to a place where rabies is common, staying there a long time, staying where medical facilities are limited or doing things that could increase your risk of being bitten – for example cycling – you need jabs.
Vaccination typically involves 3 injections. The second takes place 7 days after the first and the third 14-21 days after that. You won’t need a booster unless the last time you had a jab was more than 10 years ago and you’re going to a high-risk area.
Tetanus vaccination – See polio, above.
Tick-borne encephalitis vaccination – This is usually only recommended if you’re staying in a high risk area for some time, or will be hiking or camping in at-risk areas during late spring or summer.
The vaccination comes as 3 jabs, the second given 1-3 months after the first. This keeps you immune for around a year. The third jab takes place another 5-12 months later gives you immunity for as long as 3 years, but the course can be accelerated if necessary with 2 jabs 2 weeks apart.
Booster doses of the vaccine may be recommended every three years, depending on your circumstances.
Tuberculosis vaccination – British children get a TB jab when they’re little. The BCG jab is recommended for people under 16 years old who will be working or living with locals for 3 months or more, or if they haven’t already had the jab, which consists of a single injection.
Typhoid vaccination – This is a good idea if you’re going to a place where the disease is common, especially when you’ll be working or living with locals, or exposed frequently to poor food hygiene and bad sanitation.
Two vaccines are available. One is a single jab, the other is three capsules, which you swallow every other day. You can also get a combination hepatitis A / typhoid jab.
Ideally, you should take the vaccine at least a month before you go but there’s some flexibility. If you’re at risk of infection, a booster every 3 years is a good idea.
Yellow fever vaccination – This is vital if you’re going to a place where the disease is common or there’s an outbreak. Some countries demand a proof of vaccination certificate before they let you in. It’s important to have your jab at least 10 days before you leave.
It’s a good idea to have a booster every decade if you’re still at risk, but the latest research hints that this might not be necessary, with immunity lasting a lifetime, much longer than originally thought.
Expert advice from our experienced staff
We will give you expert advice on all the travel vaccinations you need, tailored to your exact situation. This level of service is vital, especially so under some circumstances: when you’re either pregnant or breastfeeding, have an immune deficiency or an allergy.