When to Seek Advice / Vaccination
How Long Do Vaccinations Last?
What Are The Likely Side Effects?
Will Vaccines Weaken My Immune System?
What if I Have a Cold?
Can I Drink Alcohol After Vaccines?
Travel Health Advisory Report
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All the information you need about where, when and how to get vaccinated.
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When to seek advice and vaccinations

We normally encourage travellers to make an appointment 8 weeks before travel. This is because some vaccinations take some time to take effect, you may need one to test malaria tablets, and some vaccines require a course of injections.

If you know you are travelling but don't know when or where, you can still get basic vaccinations - it is never too late to plan for a healthy journey.
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how long do vaccinations last

The table below outlines the usual duration of protection once the vaccination course is complete. For some vaccines, the duration of protection is uncertain.
  • Chicken Pox - 10 years (possibly life)
  • Cholera (oral vaccine) - 2 years
  • Diphtheria - 10 years
  • Flu vaccine (Fluvax) - 1 year
  • Hepatitis A (Vaqta / Havrix/Twinrix) - 20 years (possibly longer)
  • Hepatitis B (HBVax II/Engerix B/Twinrix) - life
  • Japanese B Encephalitis - 3 years
  • Measles, Mumps, Rubella - 15 years (possibly life)
  • Meningitis (Menomune/Mencevax) - 1-3 years
  • Pneumonia (Pneumovax) - 5 years (possibly life)
  • Polio (Sabin) - 10 years (possibly life)
  • Polio (IPV) - 10 years (possibly life)
  • Rabies (pre exposure) - 10 years (possibly life)
  • Tetanus - 10 years
  • Typhoid - 3 years
  • Yellow Fever - 10 years
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what are the likely side effects

These days, vaccines cause fewer problems than in the past. On the day of vaccination, most people can work, drive a car, play sport or go to the gym, but it is best to 'take it easy'. Modern vaccines do not leave a scar.

Any vaccine can cause rare and less common reactions. Each vaccine recommended, its benefits and possible side effects, will be discussed with you at your initial consultation.

1. Fainting

The people most likely to faint are 20-29 year old men of above average height, receiving a Tetanus vaccine plus another vaccine. If you have a history of fainting after injections, make sure you tell the doctor. You will need to lie down during vaccination and for up to ten minutes afterwards.

2. Allergic reactions (Anaphylaxis)

Allergic reactions are rare but may be very serious. After vaccinations, notify your doctor immediately if you feel:
  • warm
  • itchy (or develop a rash) away from the injection site
  • faint (especially on standing up) or dizzy
  • short or breath, or develop wheeze or cough
  • swelling develop in throat, face, hands or limbs
  • suddenly tired
Symptoms usually develop within 30 minutes of vaccination, (hence the need to wait in the clinic after receiving certain vaccines especially Yellow Fever). Occasionally allergic symptoms occur up to 10 days later (especially Japanese Encephalitis). If you develop one or more of the above symptoms within 10 days, immediately call your doctor or go to the nearest casualty department or well equipped medical centre.

Persons with allergies to eggs cannot have vaccines against yellow fever and flu. Travellers with penicillin allergy can be vaccinated safely.

3. Sore, red arm

Usually vaccinations cause nothing more serious than a sore arm for a few days. If you keep your arm moving, it will help ease the soreness. The tetanus injection may cause a deep lump or hardness that persists for a few weeks. If your arm is red, hot and/or sore, place an ice pack over the affected area. You may take paracetamol. Intradermal vaccines (e.g. rabies) may cause itchiness at the injection site and a small surface lump that may persist for weeks.

4. Fevers and feeling sick

Yellow fever vaccine may cause a slight fever, headache, tiredness, and muscle aches in 2-10% of persons, starting 3-9 days after vaccination. MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) may cause a fever in 5-15% of persons, starting 5-12 days after vaccination, along with a temporary rash in 5% persons. The old typhoid/cholera combination made many persons feel very 'unwell'. Most of the new 'dead' vaccines do not generally cause fevers. The flu vaccine is 'dead' and cannot cause you to develop the flu. If you develop a fever or become unwell after vaccination, call the doctor who gave you the vaccines.
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Will vaccines weaken my immune system?

Careful investigations have shown absolutely no evidence for any 'weakening'. The vaccines are a 'drop in the bucket' compared to what one's immune system is exposed to every day. A little bit of 'exercise' is probably very good for the immune system. Vaccinations are only recommended when the risk of the disease is far greater than that of the vaccine.
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What if I have a cold?

It is safe to be vaccinated while you have a bit of a runny nose, sore throat or cough. Delay vaccination if you have a fever over 39°C or if you are sick enough to be in bed.
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Can I drink alcohol after vaccines?

If you are having Japanese Encephalitis vaccine, you must avoid 'more than your usual' alcohol for 48 hours after each dose. If taking the oral cholera vaccine, alcohol (or food) must not be taken one hour before and two hours after the vaccine. It is OK to have alcohol in the 48 hours after other vaccinations - however, stay under the legal limit - approximately one standard drink per hour.

The myth about "no alcohol after receiving vaccines" may have begun this way... Apparently army recruits used to be given numerous vaccines and then be given a day off to recover...and what did the army recruits do when they had the day off? They went to the pub and got drunk and obnoxious, so the army advised them not to drink any alcohol for 48 hours after their vaccines.
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