Going on holiday is an exciting event, but it necessitates a lot of advance planning. First there's booking the time off work, then you'll need to locate the passports. Next, there's arranging airport transfers, getting medical travel insurance and buying your holiday essentials. That's not to mention the 'all-important' beach-body diet. There is a lot to do for a fortnight of relaxation and culture.
Another essential step is to establish whether any vaccinations are required for your chosen destination. The requirement varies as per the individual region, the purpose of your trip and your own health-risk status. That said, for a two-week summer holiday, it should be pretty easy to work out whether an injection is necessary (NHS Fit for Travel is a good place to start).
Here's a brief look at the most common pre-trip vaccinations and how to obtain them:
Most common injections
Among the most common risks is tetanus, which can be contracted from cutting the skin on something dirty, such as a rusty nail. This can happen anywhere in the world, so is worth protecting against, although many British people will have received tetanus jabs as a matter of course anyway. Hepatitis B, is another disease against which holiday-makers ought to be immunised. This is spread via infected blood - again, cuts, needles or unprotected sexual intercourse.
Typhoid and hepatitis A are similarly common, developing as a result of consuming contaminated food or water. It's pertinent to have vaccinations in addition to taking care to drink bottled water or piping hot foods. Rabies is another nasty disease for which travellers can be vaccinated against, especially if visiting areas where there are likely to be stray or wild animals.
Malaria is one that concerns a lot of travellers, yet it is only an issue in specific areas. The NHS's malaria page provides good guidance on the disease and lists the high risk areas. Having injections or tablets is typically left up to the individual, however.
Yellow fever, spread by a specific variety of mosquito, is another commonly suggested vaccination. Although it has not occurred in Europe, Asia or North America for several years, some GPs may still recommend it to be 'on the safe side'.
While jabs are not required for the majority of popular holiday destinations, it might be a good idea to ensure that you and your family or travelling companions are up to date on their standard, non-travel vaccinations.
If you don't have a record yourself, your doctor should be able to tell you whether any boosters are due for hepatitis B, flu, tetanus or tuberculosis. Children might require a second MMR dose or a meningitis C booster.
Where to get your injections
Your first port of call will probably be your local GP, where the injections are usually given free of charge. You may need to fill in a travel questionnaire ahead of time or make an initial visit so that the correct vaccinations can be ordered, so give the surgery a ring beforehand.
If its awkward to get to your doctor during the working week, you could try a local travel clinic, such as MASTA or the UK Travel Vaccination Service. Search online for your nearest branch, though be aware that charges will apply.
Wherever you go and whatever injections you have, bear in mind that some vaccinations require a few weeks to become effective, thus you may need to make your appointment several weeks in advance of your holiday.
Photo Credit: Backpacking S.E. Asia