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Don't forget your holiday vaccinations

​Have you have your holiday vaccinations?
As thousands of South Devon and Torbay families prepare to jet off to sunnier climes, summer travellers are urged to make sure they have the right vaccinations and basic first-aid items.

Local NHS services are advising budding tourists to avoid serious diseases by finding out which vaccinations are necessary or recommended for the areas they are visiting, and what to do if they get ill abroad.

Dr John Whitehead, a Dawlish GP and clinical lead for primary care at South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Checking this out is really easy online – just go to the NHS Choices website​, where there is a wide range of advice about vaccinations and general travel health.

“Contrary to rumours after the Brexit referendum, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is still valid, so it is advisable that those holidaying on the Continent carry one.

“The card, which can be applied for online or over the phone, entitles people to free or reduced-cost medical care – although it won't cover everything that travel insurance can, such as emergency travel back to the UK.

“Also, whether travelling or staying in the UK, don’t forget to take a travel health essentials kit, which would include sunscreen, painkillers, antihistamines and antiseptic.”

In addition to online vaccination guidance, GP practices’ nursing teams can offer advice and administer vaccinations, but it is advisable to speak to them as early as possible because some jabs need to be given well in advance.

In the UK, the childhood vaccination programme protects people against a number of diseases, but it doesn't cover most of the infectious diseases found overseas.

Dr Whitehead added: “Your GP practice nurse can give advice and find out whether your existing UK jabs are up to date. A booster of the UK jabs can be also given at your GP practice if needed.

“However, it’s worth noting that not all vaccinations are available free on the NHS, even if they're recommended for travel to a certain area.

“In addition, anyone who thinks they might be at risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, should speak to their GP before flying, and travellers who take medication according to a strict timetable, such as insulin or oral contraceptives, should seek medical advice from a health professional before their journey.”