Are your vaccines up to date?

It seems you can’t go a week without hearing news about vaccinations. Whether it’s the rise of diseases which were widespread over 100 years ago, or controversy; the fact remains that vaccinations save lives.

The World Health Organisation lists vaccination hesitancy as one of their top 10 threats to health, due to many people no longer vaccinating their children for a number of reasons; however eradicating infections only works if the uptake of a new vaccination is high, so it is important to get immunised when advised to.

An example of this it that the number of people getting immunised against Measles Mumps and Rubella (MMR) has dropped, and measles outbreaks have risen globally by 30%. The number of cases in England has continued to rise since 2018 and many of those are imported following travel to Europe.

With this in mind, you may not think of checking whether you should get vaccinations when travelling in Europe and other parts of the world; however, doing so prevents not only you getting ill, but also the spread of disease if you were to bring it home with you. You can check your child’s Red Book to see what immunisations they have had before you go abroad.

Diseases you can be vaccinated against before travelling include – tuberculosis, hepatitis, Japanese encephalitis, meningitis, rabies, yellow fever and tick-borne encephalitis. For more information, visit the NHS Fit for travel website, and the UK government’s foreign travel advice.

You can book your travel immunisations at your registered GP practice or at a travel vaccination clinic. Your pharmacist will also be able to offer advice on protecting yourself when travelling.

Don’t forget to budget in the cost of vaccines when booking your trip. The cost of most travel vaccines are not covered by the NHS, and the price of them will vary depending on the number of doses required and what vaccine it is.

The following travel vaccines are available free on the NHS if your GP practice is signed up to provide vaccination services – polio (given as a combined diphtheria/tetanus/polio jab), typhoid, hepatitis A, and cholera.