Package holidays and budget airlines have transformed the way we travel, especially within Europe. It’s now just as cheap to have your summer holiday in Bulgaria or Bilbao as it is in Bognor or Blackpool, and part of the appeal of European travel is that it’s all so easy. We’re used to few passport restrictions, the lack of Visa requirements and the fact we don’t need vaccinations which are associated with more exotic travel destinations. Or do we?
NHS Fit for Travel
Before you start planning your next foreign break, take a look at the NHS Fit To Travel website. This is where you’ll find all of the latest information about recommended immunisations and other health information related to your destination. It also contains news about new infections, such as Zika. The information is sorted by country, so just click on the country you are thinking of visiting, and you’ll have all the information there on the screen.
The countries which we traditionally think of as “Western Europe” are the places you can travel without having to be concerned about vaccinations. This includes most of the popular holiday destination countries such as Spain, France, Portugal, Greece and Scandinavia. Nobody will ask you for medical certificates at the airport, and if you pack your EHIC cover in your luggage you’ll be able to access state medical care in most parts of Western Europe should you fall ill.
Eastern Europe and Turkey
Once you venture further east into Europe, the situation changes, especially if you are going to one of the countries which made up the former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine or Turkey. The recommendations for each country vary. Remember too that if you’ve been brought up in the UK you’ve probably been immunised against diseases such as polio, diphtheria and tetanus as a child, so will just require a booster. In other countries, hepatitis A or cholera vaccinations are also recommended. These recommendations shouldn’t be taken lightly; cholera and diphtheria may not be killers as they were in the past, but nobody wants to spend their holidays languishing in an Eastern European hospital. Take sensible precautions to minimise the risks too, such as observing good food hygiene and taking care over what you eat and drink.
Exceptions – Malta and Albania
The only two countries in Europe which require compulsory health certificates are Malta and Albania. The Maltese requirement to have a Yellow fever vaccination certificate only applies to people arriving from an area with a Yellow Fever risk (not the UK), or people who have transited through an airport in this type of area. Take advice if you are unsure whether this might apply to you. It won’t if you are leaving from the UK and haven’t been anywhere exotic previously to your Malta trip. Albania has similar requirements, and visitors there are also recommended to have other vaccinations. Policies and risks change, and as each country makes its own recommendations, advice is liable to change. Always check the NHS website to make sure you have the latest information.