Common ailments

Holiday advice: Vaccinations

My family and I are planning a trip to Goa in India. Will we need travel vaccinations for our trip and where do we get them from? Is there any other advice you can give us on staying well while we’re away?

Yes, you will all need to have travel vaccinations before your trip to Goa. You can do this by making an appointment with the practice nurse at your GP surgery at least 8 weeks before you travel. The practice nurse will be able to check your medical records to see what vaccinations you have had before and tell you what immunisations you will need. Most immunisations can be given by the practice nurse and some surgeries run travel vaccination clinics.

Not all vaccinations are available free on the NHS, even if they are recommended for travel to a certain area, so you may be asked to pay a charge to cover the cost of the vaccine.

The vaccinations recommended for travel to India generally include Hepatitis A and Typhoid, though other vaccinations (e.g. Hepatitis B and Rabies) may also be recommended depending on what activities you plan to do, the length of your stay and your general health. Your practice nurse will assess these and also discuss other travel safety issues such as food and water, accidents, sun exposure, and insect bites.

There is also a malaria risk in many parts of India so it is likely that your practice nurse will recommend anti-malaria tablets before your travel. It is essential you take malaria precautions whilst on holiday, doing all you can to avoid mosquito bites. Insect repellents, mosquito nets, and trousers and long-sleeved clothing will help. Also, seek medical advice if you or any member of your family develops a fever during your time away and after your return home (for up to a year).

As with many holiday destinations, it is also important that you are careful with what you eat and drink whilst in India. Many illnesses, including Hepatitis A and cholera, can be transmitted through contaminated food and water. Eat only fruit and vegetables that are cooked or that you peel yourself as washed raw fruit and vegetables can be contaminated with the water they are washed in. It is also wise to drink only bottled water and refuse ice cubes in drinks. Boiled water and hot drinks made with boiled water are usually safe. Taking simple precautions such as these should help you all stay healthy and well while on holiday.

Finally, check that your travel insurance covers medical treatment as you don’t want to end up with a large medical bill if you are taken ill or have an accident whilst on holiday.

I hope you have a great time!

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