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The rise in worldwide and adventurous tourism has seen a massive increase in people travelling to exotic destinations. This leads to exposure to diseases that are less likely to occur at home. These are diseases against which we have no natural immunity and against which we are not routinely immunised in the UK. They include:

  • Insect-borne conditions such as malaria, dengue, yellow fever and Zika virus.
  • Diseases acquired from eating and drinking, such as hepatitis A and traveller’s diarrhoea.
  • Diseases acquired from others or conditions of poor hygiene, such as hepatitis B and Ebola virus.
  • Diseases acquired directly from animals, such as rabies.

These are illnesses which might not only spoil your holiday but might also pose a risk to your life.

Getting vaccinated against certain diseases is one of the most effective things you can do to protect your health abroad. Plan to get the travel vaccines you need at least a month before your trip. Most vaccines need to be given ahead of time to give you full protection against a disease. 

Before travelling outside the UK it is important to check whether there are any vaccinations available which could protect you. In almost all circumstances, it’s very rare for someone not to need vaccines, travel vaccines are broken down into three types:

Routine vaccines are the standard child and adult immunisations recommended for the general U.K. population. Many people are not up to date on their adult immunisations, such as the tetanus, diphtheria, polio vaccination, therefore these can be caught up when having travel vaccines. Because vaccines for diseases that are routine here, for instance measles, which breaks out every now and then, can be extremely common in other countries, routine vaccines sometimes become very important when traveling abroad.

Recommended vaccines are travel vaccinations that can protect you in areas where there is an intermediate or high risk for contracting certain illnesses. They also help prevent the spread of diseases from one country to another.

Required vaccines. The yellow fever vaccine may be required for travel to certain parts of Africa and South America. Saudi Arabia also has a meningococcal vaccine requirement during the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

Below is a brief list of vaccine-preventable travel-related diseases that are not covered by routine adult vaccinations:

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis B


Meningococcal disease

Yellow Fever


Japanese Encephalitis


Whether or not you may need one or more of these vaccines depends on any number of variables. People assume it’s one-size-fits-all — OK, I’m going to Thailand, what do I need? That’s not enough. A business executive staying in Bangkok at a 5–star hotel has a completely different risk profile from a college student who’s going to backpack in rural Thailand. So, the vaccinations recommended for these two people would be different, even though they are going to the same country.

That’s why we encourage people to see a travel health specialist. You don’t want your trip to be ruined with an illness either while you’re away or when you get back home so it’s so important to visit a travel clinic and get the right advice and protection.

Written by Laura Oakley, Clinical Development Manager, ECG Training, Wednesday 13th January 2022


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