To vaccinate or not to vaccinate, that is the question

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Research from travel insurance provider Columbus Direct has shown that British travellers are placing themselves at risk of contracting a serious illness while on holiday abroad by not having vital vaccinations, with statistics revealing that only six out of 10 travellers would always get the necessary inoculations prior to travelling

 

A fear of unpleasant side effects is enough to put off 13 per cent of Brits from being inoculated pre-holiday. The growth in last minute holiday breaks, especially to tropical long haul destinations, is also posing a health risk, as 13 per cent of Brits claim a lack of time between booking and travelling meant they couldn’t be inoculated.

The expense of vaccinations would deter some travellers (11 per cent) from getting the appropriate vaccinations before heading abroad. Younger people (18-25 year olds) in particular are much less inclined to get inoculated because of costs (23 per cent), compared to just four per cent from those aged between 56-65. Other reasons that could prevent travellers from getting inoculated include multiple visits to doctor/nurses (eight per cent), not being able to book an appointment or gain advice from GP (seven per cent) and not knowing if the holiday destination requires specific vaccinations (seven per cent). 

 

Table 1: Reasons that prevent travellers from getting inoculated

Reasons for not getting vaccinations

Percentage of respondents

If there were side effects associated with the vaccination

13%

If I booked the holiday last minute so would be unable to get inoculated in time

13%

If the vaccinations were expensive

11%

If the vaccination course required multiple visits to the doctor / nurse

8%

If I was unable to book an appointment or gain advice from my GP

7%

If I was unsure whether the holiday destination required specific vaccinations

7%

If I didn’t know where to get the required vaccination

5%

If I thought I knew how to avoid attracting the disease I would be getting inoculated against

4%

If I knew someone who had visited the same destination without getting the vaccination

3%

Source: Columbus Direct, 2017

 

Rob Thomas, head of brand at Columbus Direct, said: “Vaccinations are often low down the priority list compared to sorting out flights, accommodation, spending money and travel insurance. Travellers who do not get the necessary vaccinations are risking the health of themselves and others through risk of transmission. They might also have to pay out of their own pocket for any ensuing medical expenses abroad as not having required inoculations before travelling could invalidate a travel insurance policy.”

Of the top 30 countries visited by UK residents, National Health Service advice recommends vaccinations for eight of them.

 

Table 2: Recommended vaccinations for the popular countries visited by UK citizens (full top 30 countries included in appendix)

Country

Rank out of top 30 most visited countries by UK citizens 

Vaccinations recommended

(outside of life in Britain)7

Other vaccines to consider7

Turkey

9

Hepatitis A; Tetanus

Hepatitis B; Rabies

Mexico

14

Hepatitis A; Tetanus; Typhoid

Diphtheria; Rabies

Morocco

15

Hepatitis A; Tetanus; Typhoid

Hepatitis B; Rabies

United Arab Emirates

18

Hepatitis A

Diphtheria; Hepatitis B; Tetanus; Typhoid

Thailand

23

Hepatitis A; Tetanus.

Yellow fever vaccination certificate required for travellers over 9 months of age arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission and for all travellers having transited more than 12 hours through the airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission

Cholera; Diphtheria; Hepatitis B; Japanese Encephalitis; Rabies; Typhoid

Tunisia

24

Hepatitis A; Tetanus; Typhoid

Hepatitis B; Rabies

India

27

Diphtheria; Hepatitis A; Tetanus; Typhoid. Yellow fever vaccination certificate requirements for India are specific and quite lengthy; read the full details via the WHO website

Cholera; Hepatitis B; Japanese Encephalitis; Rabies

Egypt

29

Hepatitis A; Tetanus; Typhoid. Yellow fever vaccination certificate required for travellers over 9 months of age arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission for travellers having transited more than 12 hours through the airport of a country with risk of yellow fever transmission*

Hepatitis B; Rabies

Source: Columbus Direct, 2017

 

Rob Thomas continued: “Some vaccinations are free on the NHS and only need one injection so there is no reason not to protect yourself. Others do require a bit more time and cost but often these are the ones that protect you from potentially life threatening diseases like malaria, so travellers should check they have sufficient time to complete the necessary treatment before booking their holiday so they don’t end up taking any unnecessary risks.”

ITIJ asked about the potential for claims being denied if a person failed to get recommended vaccines before travelling; a spokesman for Collinson clarified: “Like most travel insurers Columbus Direct includes an exclusion relating to costs incurred from a tropical disease where there are NHS recommendations to be inoculated against the disease prior to travel. We would expect that most claims arising under those circumstances would be excluded. However, claims are of course reviewed on an individual basis so this would be decided based on the circumstances of the case and the reason why the customer did not take the necessary precautions.”