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Jetting off for summer? Don’t forget your jabs

Fortunately it’s possible to protect against many diseases before leaving the UK, so plan ahead and seek guidance from your GP, a practice nurse or a travel clinic. This is especially important if you’re hedging your bets on a last-minute trip as some vaccinations, such as Hepatitis A, needs approximately 2 to 4 weeks after the first injection allow for the body to develop effective immunity, while other vaccines (rabies, for example) require multiple visits to your practitioner.


Some countries require an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) before they grant entry to visitors so check this out.  Many tropical countries in Africa and South America won't accept travelers from an area where there's yellow fever unless there’s proof of vaccination.  So if country hopping is on the agenda this is well worth knowing.

Each vaccine has some possible side effects and your practitioner should be able advise you – but for injections often you’ll experience no more than temporary soreness, redness, or swelling.


Dr Yousef Habbab, Medical Director of health services at AXA PPP healthcare, says “Planning ahead and taking steps to safeguard your health before taking a trip abroad can give you real peace of mind so you can focus on enjoying your experience.


“In addition to any travel vaccines recommended for the areas you intend to visit it’s important to be prepared for health risks or mishaps that can strike while you’re away too. For example, consider your sun exposure and the adjustments you should make to protect yourself from sunburn and dehydration, or if you’ll be likely to encounter biting insects. Similarly, when it comes to food and drink while you’re abroad, find out if it’s safe to drink the local tap water and whether you should steer clear of certain foods that you’re not familiar with.”

Dr Habbab’s three step plan to help safeguard your holiday health

1.      Plan Ahead: This means thinking about the health risks associated with the country you’ll be visiting. In most cases consider the need for vaccinations well in advance of the date you set off. Vaccination choices can also depend on the time of year you spend in your chosen destination, with diseases such as Typhoid being more common during rainy season.

2.      Consider your environment: In general, underdeveloped rural areas of, for example, Asia, Africa or South America often carry more health risks than city and urban environments. If you're backpacking and staying in hostels or camping on the hoof, you may be more at risk than if you’re on a package holiday and staying in a modern hotel. And, if you're undertaking volunteer work be aware of the medical conditions that may affect people you’ll come into contact with.  As well as this, if you are in contact with local wildlife you may be at risk of getting certain diseases such as rabies.


3.      Check and protect your health: Some may be more vulnerable to infection or ailments than others so take stock of your own health before you leave. Some vaccinations can't be given to people with certain medical conditions. Hepatitis A and B as well as Polio should not be given to those with severe allergies or those who are feeling unwell. And don’t forget to find out about the healthcare facilities available when you’re abroad and the health insurance you may need to cover treatment and care should you become ill or injured.

In addition to further vaccinations information on the AXA PP healthcare website, there is also this handy slide share available on vaccinations required for popular gap destinations.

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