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NHS travel health service and travel vaccinations

Travelling abroad soon and think you need vaccines, a malaria risk assessment or travel advice?

Your GP is not your point of contact for a travel health risk assessment or travel vaccines.

NHS travel health service

NHS Scotland provides a travel health service that includes some free vaccines.

To find information on how to make an appointment for a travel health risk assessment in Scotland, contact the NHS health board where you live.

Contact your local health board

Private travel clinics

You can also visit an independent (private) travel clinic for:

— a travel health risk assessment
— travel advice
— other travel vaccines

You should arrange a travel health risk assessment 6 to 8 weeks before you travel. This gives time for any vaccines you need to become fully effective.

If your trip is sooner, remember it’s never too late to get advice.

Travel health risk assessment

If you’re planning to travel outside the UK, your travel health needs will depend on your individual situation. This includes:

— your destination
— how long you’ll stay
— what you’ll be doing
— your general health

The fitfortravel website provides country-specific advice on:

— recommended vaccines
— malaria
— other risk prevention advice

If you think you need vaccines and/or a malaria risk assessment, you should make an appointment with a travel health professional.

A travel health risk assessment is also recommended for some people, even when vaccines or malaria tablets aren’t required. This includes:

— older people
— those with a weakened immune system
— those with long-term conditions that need medications
— pregnant women
— children

Travel vaccines

The following travel vaccines are free on the NHS in Scotland:

— diphtheria, polio and tetanus (combined booster)
— hepatitis A
— typhoid
— cholera

It’s likely that you’ll have to pay for vaccines against:

yellow fever
— Japanese encephalitis
— tick-borne encephalitis
rabies

You may also have to pay for the following vaccines if they’re only needed for travel purposes:

— hepatitis B
— meningitis
— tuberculosis (TB)

Proof of vaccination

To enter some countries you may need proof that you have had particular vaccines. This includes the yellow fever vaccine.

Yellow fever vaccines are only available from designated centres. To find out if you need a yellow fever vaccine or proof of the vaccine, you should contact a yellow fever clinic.

Find clinics in Scotland that offer yellow fever vaccinations

To request a list of any other vaccines held on your GP record, contact your GP practice. GP practices cannot provide proof of COVID vaccine.

Preventing risk while travelling

Vaccines or anti-malarial tablets will not protect against all travel health risks. This means you’ll need to take extra steps to protect your health whilst travelling abroad.

The fitfortravel website has further advice on preventing health risks whilst travelling. This includes information on:

general travel advice
disease prevention

Travelling abroad to visit friends and relatives

If you’re travelling abroad to visit friends or relatives, you may be at higher risk of developing travel-related illnesses. For example, malaria or typhoid. This could be because:

— you may be living with the local community
— your trip might be longer than the average holiday
— you might be visiting more rural areas where it’s difficult to take precautions that reduce your risk

The fitfortravel website provides information and advice on visiting friends and family abroad.

Travel safety advice

You can find country-specific safety and security advice through the UK government website.

Travel insurance advice

Many countries don’t have the same access to medical treatments as the UK and can be expensive.

It’s recommended that all travellers get comprehensive travel insurance before travelling.

When you return home

If you become unwell and/or develop a fever when you return home, it’s important to get medical advice as soon as possible. You should seek medical help even if it’s up to 1 month after you’ve been travelling.

Always make sure you tell the health professional that you’ve recently travelled abroad. This is especially important if you have been to a country where malaria is a risk.

Donating blood after travelling abroad

Travel outside the UK can affect whether you can give blood donations. This is because some infections may be caught abroad. This is usually through mosquito or other insect bites.

There are conditions for donating blood if you’ve been to certain countries. This can depend on your length of stay and some other factors.

Further information on donating blood after travelling abroad