How far in advance to get travel vaccinations
Vaccines can take a few weeks to start working, so make sure you make time before your trip to visit a travel clinic or schedule a doctor appointment to get health advice for the countries you plan to visit.
The NHS recommends seeing a GP or a visiting a travel clinic at least 8 weeks before you’re due to travel. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “anyone 9 months or older who travels to areas where yellow fever vaccine is recommended should be vaccinated against yellow fever at least 10 days before travel.”
It’s also important to ensure you’re up-to-date on routine vaccinations. You can also research online and visit the CDC Travel Health website, which gives travel health information and advice for travellers. Depending on where you’re going, some vaccines may be recommended to protect you in areas of risk for certain illnesses, while others are required, such as yellow fever.
Many countries require you to have a certificate of your yellow fever vaccine before they let you into the country.
Some vaccine-preventable diseases for travellers:
- Diphtheria – Babies are usually vaccinated against this in the UK.
- Hepatitis A – This vaccine is only recommended for people at an increased risk.
- Hepatitis B – A vaccine for this is routinely available for all babies born in the UK.
- Influenza – There are a number of vaccines available for influenza.
- Typhoid fever – In the UK, two vaccines are available for this.
- Yellow Fever – In the UK, the yellow fever vaccine are only available from registered centres.
- Meningococcal disease – A number of vaccines are available for this. More details can be found here.
- Rabies – The rabies vaccine should be considered if you are travelling to a part of the world where the disease is common.
- Japanese encephalitis – This vaccine is usually only available privately.
- Tetanus – The tetanus vaccine requires 5 injections in total.
- Poliomyelitis – The polio vaccine is given by injection in a number of separate doses.
- Measles, mumps, rubella and varicella – The MMRV vaccine is available for this and considered to be very safe.
There are several things to consider when planning your travel vaccinations, including:
What vaccines do I need before I travel?
Some diseases are more common in certain parts of the world. The country or countries you will be visiting is a key factor to determine what immunizations are recommended or required for your travels.
For example, in Asia, it is highly recommended to get vaccinations such as:
- Hepatitis A
When and how long you’ll be staying
Some diseases are more common at certain times of the year; for example, during the rainy season. And the longer you stay, the greater your risk of being exposed to diseases.
Where you’re staying and what you’ll be doing
A business trip where you spend most of your time in a hotel is very different from a trip where you spend time outdoors. Rural areas generally involve a higher risk, and you may come into contact with more diseases if you’re working as an aid worker or if you’re in contact with animals. When planning your next holiday abroad, be sure to check what vaccinations are required for your journey.
When it comes to preventing getting ill on holidays, we recommend the following action points:
- Prevent insect bites- wear permethrin-threated clothing and gear, stay and sleep in air conditioned or screened rooms.
- Keep away from animals- do not touch or feed any animals you do not know.
Age and health
Immunizations are not suitable for everyone. Pregnant women, babies, and individuals who have had serious reactions to vaccinations in the past are some special cases that require consideration. It's important to consult with a doctor or travel clinic to decide on the right vaccinations for each individual.
What else to pack to avoid diseases
In addition to vaccines, you can prepare a list of health-related items for your trip. Depending on where you’re going, your healthy packing could include:
- insect repellent products or supplies
- medicines that may be difficult to find at your destination
- Sunburn treatment
As exciting as it is to move to or visit a new country, remember there are healthy precautions to consider before travelling. Check out our tips on how to stay healthy abroad.