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What to know before you jet off – FAQs on travel vaccines and immunisation

If you’re heading off on holidays or for longer travels far afield, you no doubt have a to do list longer than your arm. There’s a lot to consider – and that’s even before you start whittling down your wardrobe to pack!

In order to make your holiday plans (or daydreams) a little smoother sailing, here’s a beginner’s guide to what you need to know about travel immunisation.

When should I start thinking about getting my vaccines?

The short answer is: as early as possible. This will depend not only on your duration of stay and the region you’re planning on visiting, but also other factors – for example, how rural you will go within certain countries and previous vaccinations you may have had. Six weeks is a good rule of thumb, but if in doubt about timeframes, it’s always good to ask in plenty of time.

If you are going for a short trip to the beach or doing more long-term volunteering work, for example, your requirements will vary. For some trips, you may even require up to three repeat visits over time. This is why it’s advisable to book a consultation as soon as you know where you’re jetting off to.

The vaccines you require will depend on your personal circumstances and your travel plans. Discuss these with your chosen clinic – there’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to this stuff!

Are the injections going to be sore? Are there side effects?

The injections you will have for travelling should be no more uncomfortable than getting a blood test. The only side effects you may notice are a little soreness, redness or heaviness in your arm afterwards. In certain cases, you may feel a bit fluish. If you’re concerned, get back in touch with the clinic and they can advise you best.

Is there anything else I need to consider?

Depending on the area you are travelling to, malaria protection tablets may also be prescribed to you by your doctor.

No malaria prevention treatment is 100% effective, but they are mostly reliable if you closely follow the instructions provided. There are occasionally some side effects to malaria prevention treatment, but this depends on the type of tablets prescribed.

Make sure to discuss this with your GP if you’re visiting an area where malaria occurs – especially if it is remote or you are staying a long time.

We have lots more great tips and advice on a range of subjects – from heart health to keeping your family in top shape – over on our Health Hub blog.