I am being asked about this quite a lot recently and my advice to everyone is to seek professional advice – and then take it! Some insurance policies will not pay out if you haven’t taken the advice issued.
As tour operators we can tell you what we personally have done in the past. We can advise you of any recent health news items we have heard about from our ground handlers and which would matter to you and your family. However this is not official advice and the most up to date and helpful authority is your local doctor who in turn will pass you onto their travel clinic. Alternatively contact a specialist clinic of which there are an increasing number. Remember over time areas change and whilst you didn’t need malaria last time you visited northern Cambodia, you might need it now.
It is imperative that you call them as soon as you have decided on your destination as some vaccinations need to be administered in a series over a specific number of weeks. You can’t really up and go on safari in Africa without the relevant jabs beforehand – as Cheryl Fernandez Versini found to her cost, contracting malaria whilst on a “long weekend,” in Kenya. Once you have made an immunisation plan with your professional you must stick to it, at risk of undermining the efficacy.
Some routine immunisations are relevant to life in the UK and as a UK citizen these are currently available on the NHS. As you travel further afield the immunisations become more glamorous and specific and consequently more expensive. To rationalise the costs enquire about how long the immunisation lasts and whether you can “top up”, in 1 year to give an overall longer cover. Then your next adventure will be covered and in your mind you can divide the costs! It is always much more expensive if things go wrong – immunisation is an insurance.
Record Your Immunisation
Keep up to date with your vaccinations. Make a record of when you had them and when you will need them next. Your medic should give you a booklet or something as proof. Carry this with your passport as you may need to show it whilst travelling – particularly when travelling across borders (and if course if you need it medically). Occasionally I have been told that the strain of immunisation I received is no longer relevant and I need a different kind. I have also been informed that what was previously only 1 year cover could be 10 if I have an extra shot after 1 year. It pays to keep in touch with your health professional.
Above all else – if it is recommended by a health professional you should consider their counsel wisely and trust their medical opinion.
For other frequently asked questions here at Blue Lizard Travel take a look here.