Until recently, I had no idea what the process was for obtaining travel vaccinations as I’ve had no need to.
For everywhere I’ve travelled thus far I’ve been covered by the vaccinations administered to me as a child. As my partner and I had decided to holiday in Thailand we knew we would have to check what was necessary as the childhood vaccination programme protects you against a number of diseases, but doesn’t cover most of the infectious diseases found overseas.
So, here’s a short guide on what to do when you think you need a travel vaccination based on my own experience in 2017.
Step 1. – A quick google “What vaccinations are needed for [insert country here]”
Turns out this isn’t as straightforward as one might think. What vaccinations you require depend on not just the country you’re going to but where exactly it is you’re going to within that country, what it is you’re going to be doing, how long you’ll be staying, and your own state of health. Based on that information you can estimate your risk of exposure to potential infections and diseases.
Step 2. – Consult the NHS Fit For Travel Website
Go to www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/destinations and select the country which you are traveling to. You will then be able to identify what vaccinations you may require for your travels by consulting the country’s list of relevant infections and diseases. According to this website, it’s recommended that you consult your General Practitioner or Practice Nurse 6-8 weeks in advance of your departure so that you can be sure that any immunisations have time to take effect and protect you.
Step 3. – Contact your GP Surgery to Arrange an Appointment
From my experience, I contacted my GP Surgery and was told to collect a form which I should then complete and return to reception. The form asked questions about my holiday i.e. location, duration, accommodation type, intended activities, whether I had holiday insurance, and if I had any allergies. Upon handing this in I was asked if I would like to arrange an appointment with the Travel Nurse. My wait time was about a week and once there the nurse (after consulting my form, general health, and history of previous vaccinations) concluded that I would require a Hepatitis A injection. At the time, they did not have the vaccination in stock and I was told to ring back 3 weeks later as they were supposed to receive more stock. Had it been in stock I’d have had another appointment arranged and received the vaccination successfully for free (as Hepatitis A sits on the list as one of the typically free vaccinations offered by the NHS). Unfortunately, when I contacted them again it still wasn’t in stock – which brings us to Step 4.
Step 4. – Contact Your Local Travel Clinic
Here, like me, you’ll no doubt need to return to your good pal Google and search for your nearest Superdrug, Boots, Lloyds Pharmacy or local private travel clinic. A few of such stores offer the facility to order the vaccination you require and arrange an appointment for it to be administered. I registered with Boots and booked an appointment within the same week. They requested by email that I complete a form in advance also. Unfortunately, I had to cancel this appointment as I contacted them beforehand to check if they had stock of my vaccination – which turned out that they didn’t. At this point, I proceeded to contact a private Travel Clinic to check their stock and I was able to receive the vaccination for a fee of £59 (the price differs subject to vaccination type). So, depending on what vaccination you require each may have a different level of availability. However, as the last port of call, you should be able to obtain it privately like me.
Step 5. – Enjoy your holiday!
Whatever route you’ve taken and obstacles you may have encountered on your way to get vaccinated – you’ll now be protected. You can now holiday with the peace of mind that you’ll be immune from certain infections or diseases.