Before you book your trip abroad, you should be aware of health risks at your destination and preferably see your Practice Nurse at least 6 weeks before your planned departure.The nurse can make an individual ‘health risk assessment’ for your family which will identify hazards related to your destination(s) and planned activities, and will provide appropriate health advice.
In order for the Practice Nurse to make a thorough risk assessment, you will be asked - during your first visit - for detailed information regarding each member of your family and your trip.
- Personal details including age
- Departure date
- Length of stay
- Planned activities
- Type of accommodation
- Previous vaccinations received
- Medical history
This process can appear excessive, but is vital in order to tailor the advice to your specific needs. Following the risk assessment, the nurse or doctor will make recommendations on vaccines and malaria medication that may be appropriate for your travel plans, as well as offering advice on other potential risks. This advice might include a recommendation to defer travel to your chosen area because your child is too young to receive some vaccinations and the risk of getting diseases is too great.
With respect to vaccines these can be classified as routine, recommended, and required.
Routine vaccines are necessary for protection from diseases that are still common in many parts of the world even though they rarely occur in the UK. Whenever possible, children should complete the routine immunisations of childhood on a normal schedule. However, travel at an earlier age may require accelerated schedules.
Recommended vaccines are to protect travellers from illnesses present in other parts of the world and to prevent the importation of infectious diseases across international borders.
Required vaccines The only vaccination required by International Health Regulations is for yellow fever, for travel to certain countries in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical South America; it may be needed either for your protection or to protect other countries from Yellow Fever, depending on your travel plans. Meningococcal vaccination is required by the government of Saudi Arabia for annual travel during the Hajj.
Vaccinating children for travel requires careful evaluation. Not all travel-related vaccines are effective in infants, and some are specifically contraindicated. Travel vaccinations and anti-malaria medication are not covered by NHS prescriptions and will incur charges - your GP Practice will advise you what these are.
The following vaccines are no longer available free of charge from the NHS for travel purposes:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis A/Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis A/Typhoid
Patients will still be able to make arrangements with their GP to receive the vaccines, but on a private basis, and should be aware that on top of the cost of the vaccine, a fee may be charged by the GP.
General travel health tips
- You should also make extra preparations if you have an existing medical condition
- take out adequate travel insurance or you could face a huge medical bill if you fall ill whilst away and need treatment
- check up on the health section of the country or countries you’re going to before you travel
- drink plenty of water in hot climates to avoid dehydration
- be safe in the sun - use a high-factor sunscreen and avoid excessive sunbathing between 11am - 3pm
- find out the local emergency services numbers and the number of the local hospital
- practice safe sex - take condoms with you as quality varies in different countries. HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases can be caught worldwide.
If you have a pre-existing medical condition
- tell your travel insurer about your condition – insurance can be invalid if they don’t know about pre-existing medical conditions
- ask your doctor how the trip might affect you
- check local conditions such as climate and pollution levels and consider how you might be affected
- carry a doctor’s letter and a copy of any prescriptions
- ensure your medication is legal in the country you are visiting – the British Embassy can advise you
- learn key words and phrases in the local language for your condition, medication and emergency help
- take the same precautions you normally would in the Isle of Man and UK if you weren’t going to be at home for a while
- if you suffer from a mental illness you should be aware that facilities and local attitudes to mental health problems may differ from those in the UK. Do some research before you go.
- don’t wear restrictive or tight cloths on long-distance journeys
- do regular stretching exercises such as rotating, flexing and extending your ankles to avoid circulation problems
- walk round at regular intervals on long flights
- drink plenty of water on flights and avoid drinking too much alcohol.
Consult your doctor before long-distance travel if you:
- are pregnant or have given birth in the last 6 months
- have a history of blood disorders, deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism
- are taking hormonal medication (including the contraceptive pill)
- have cancer, heart problems or have recently had surgery.
Know Before You Go campaign - Foreign and Commonwealth Office
- get comprehensive travel insurance, and read the small print
- check the FCO’s country travel advice
- research your destination – know the local laws and customs
- research the health risk on the NHS travel health information page as soon as possible before travelling, and if necessary visit your GP
- check your passport is valid, has enough page space, time left to run and you have all necessary visas
- make copies of important travel documents and/or store them online using a secure data storage site
- tell someone where you are going and leave emergency contact details with them
- 8. take enough money and have access to emergency funds
|Useful Website Links|
|Local Advice on Travel Insurance|
|Local Advice on Yellow Fever|
|Local Advice on Sun Safety|
|NHS - Travel Health|
|NHS - Travel Vaccinations|
|NathNac - Countries A - Z|
|Fit for Travel (TRAVAX sister site)|
|Foreign & Commonwealth Office - Counties A-Z|