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Your holiday is booked and you can’t wait! You’re already planning what to pack. But don’t forget to plan for good health too.
Before you book
If you’re not keen on jabs, check health precautions for your intended destination before you book – for some destinations, vaccinations aren’t just recommended but compulsory. If you’re pregnant and plan to travel by air, calculate how many weeks pregnant you’ll be when you return. Generally airlines and insurance companies won’t accept you for flight if you’re over 36 weeks pregnant (32 weeks in a multiple pregnancy).
Ten weeks before you go
Check all the health information from your travel company, and visit a reliable website for advice specific to your holiday destination. Some vaccinations are given as a series and need to be started eight weeks before departure.
In the UK
Hepatitis A, cholera, typhoid and DTP (diphtheria, tetanus and polio) should be free. But yellow fever, encephalitis, meningitis, rabies, tuberculosis and hepatitis B will need to be paid for and you may need to visit a private clinic.
If you’re travelling within the European Economic Area (EEA)
or to Switzerland, apply for an EHIC (European Health Insurance) card. This entitles you to the same healthcare that residents of your destination receive. If you’re travelling outside the EEA, medical care may be dependent on your travel insurance, so ensure you’re clear about what’s covered.
Also check your if your travel insurance covers you in the country you’re travelling to and avoid very expensive medical bills. Take time to carefully review your insurance cover and visit those websites to complete your list.
Eight weeks beforehand
By now, you should know exactly what vaccinations or medications you need. Book appointments for your vaccinations if you haven’t already. If you need to take malaria prevention tablets, ask the doctor to prescribe them and ensure you read and follow the instructions. To be effective, they’ll need to be started before you go, and taken for a while after you return too – the time period varies depending on the exact medication.
Don’t ignore the malaria risk, or begrudge the cost of the medication. Malaria can be fatal.
Remember to pack a basic first aid kit, malaria medication and any regular medicines you take. Water purification tablets are a must if you’re unsure of water safety, and antibacterial hand wipes or gel can be handy too.
When you travel
Take written proof of the vaccinations you’ve received in your hand luggage (some countries require an International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP). If you’re on regular prescribed medication, take a copy of your prescription too, along with a doctor’s letter that includes personal information, medication details and travel dates.
And pack up these essentials to keep mosquitoes at bay
Don’t forget to take your malaria medication and remember you should still use repellents on exposed skin. Spray repellents and insecticides on your clothing and around your room. It’s best to wear long trousers and long-sleeved tops, especially in the evening.
Keep yourself well-hydrated but be cautious about water, ice cubes and also cold or poorly cooked food. Avoid the midday sun and protect yourself from the sun with sunglasses, a hat and regularly applied, high SPF suntan lotion.
Now you just need to lie back and relax, knowing you’re as prepared as you can be for a healthy holiday. Have a great time!