When planning a holiday to an overseas destination, it is always sensible to consider whether any special vaccinations are necessary to protect against the risk of contracting disease. If you’re traveling in Western Europe, it is very likely that your childhood immunizations and successive boosters, namely diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, tuberculosis and MMR, will protect you against these illnesses. It’s always worth checking whether your vaccination schedule, and that of your children, is up-to-date, as some of these vaccinations require boosters in later life to maintain full protection.
However, depending on where you’re travelling in Europe, the following vaccinations may also be recommended:
People living in the United States and UK, rabies-free countries, often associate the disease with Europe but in fact rabies has been largely eradicated from countries in the west of the continent. It is, however, greatly more prevalent in Eastern Europe and is spread by infected animals, including cats and dogs. Transmission to humans remains rare, however, if you are planning to have contact with animals in Europe, a rabies vaccination could be a sensible step. a rabies vaccine may be a good idea if you are planning on spending a lot of time outdoors: Camping, hunting, hiking..etc.
Tick-Borne Encephalitis (TBE)
Found in rural areas of central, northern and eastern Europe, tick-borne encephalitis can cause severe illness, including meningitis, and is fatal in 1% of cases. The vaccination is particularly recommended for travelers who plan to hike or walk in the countryside or in forested areas.
10 million people are affected worldwide each year by Hepatitis A, with the majority of those in the UK contracting the disease from overseas countries, with southern and eastern Europe among the infected destinations. Although an acute disease affecting the liver, hepatitis A can cause life-threatening complications but is easily preventable through vaccination. Even if you don’t need it in Europe, it’s a good idea to get a Hepatitis A vaccine if you are ever planning to visit countries in Africa and Asia. *This vaccine is often administered in 2 parts, so give yourself enough time before your trip.
Remember your European Health Card
Whether you’re traveling to an area of Europe known to be at risk of infectious disease or not, a sensible precaution for all European travelers is to carry their European Health Card (EHIC card) at all times. Formerly known as the E111 card, the EHIC is an EU health card that will entitle you and your family to receive free medical treatment, whatever the cause of your illness or injury. All members of your travelling party should carry their own card and it is important that your EHIC renewal is completed in plenty of time before you travel, so that you can be reassured of receiving the necessary treatment if you should be struck down by illness or injury during your holiday. For more information on the EHIC you can visit this blog that is updated with different ways of using your European Health Insurance Card and how it will benefit you and your family.
Americans: Buy Travel Insurance
If you are not an E.U. citizen, you can avoid having to dish out lots of money in case of an emergency by getting travel insurance for yourself and those traveling with you. Most policies won’t cover preventative visits (dental cleanings, general check-ups) or pre-existing conditions (migraines) but they will cover emergencies and emergency medical evacuations. They will also reimburse you for lost or damaged luggage/ personal belongings.