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Recommended vaccinations before you go

While no vaccinations are required for travel to the U.K., a number are made available to its citizens through the National Health Service (NHS).

You’ll want to make sure you’re up to date with all of these before you move.

The NHS also offers additional vaccines to people in certain “at risk” groups, so it’s a good idea to get advice on whether this applies to you. These may not be compulsory — but being vaccinated could help you stay healthy and happy as you begin your new life.

Make sure you’re up to date

With no specific regulations in place, advice on vaccinations can vary. Most countries with a ‘routine’ vaccination schedule agree that you should make sure that you’re up to date before you travel.

There are a few extremely common vaccines that are likely to appear on all of these vaccination schedules. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Canadian government are just two of the many organisations that recommend:

  • The MMR vaccine – which protects against measles, mumps and rubella.
  • The DTaP vaccine – which protects against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (or whooping cough).
  • The varicella vaccine – which protects against chickenpox.
  • The polio vaccine.

Almost everybody in the U.K. will have received these vaccinations, so your risk of catching one of the above conditions should be quite low. Sadly, on a global level, some of these conditions are experiencing a resurgence.

Preparing for your move to the U.K. offers the ideal opportunity to check that you are currently vaccinated — protecting you wherever you go and helping in the fight against these preventable illnesses.


Fairly common around the world, it’s easy to forget that influenza — or “flu” for short — can have very serious consequences. While it’s not a vaccination that everybody in the U.K. receives as routine, it is quite common for people in “at risk” groups to get a “flu jab” at the start of the winter months.

In the northern hemisphere, flu is particularly common between November and April. If you are travelling to the U.K. during that period, vaccination is advised by many health care practitioners. However, please do remember that you can get flu all year round — so it’s a good idea for all travellers looking to protect their health.

Depending on how common it is in your home country, you may be quite familiar with requesting and receiving an influenza vaccination. If it’s not commonly offered, you will need to seek advice from your doctor or health care provider if you wish to be vaccinated.

Hepatitis A and B

You might also want to consider vaccination against hepatitis A and B. Protection against hepatitis B, in particular, is commonly suggested by many travel advisors, and by government agencies in some countries — including the U.S. and Canada.

Hepatitis is a liver disease that can be found in countries all over the world. Hepatitis A outbreaks generally occur because of contaminated food or water, while hepatitis B is transmitted through blood and other bodily fluids. This means that certain types of activity can lead to a greater risk of exposure — including medical treatment, sexual contact, tattooing and acupuncture.

While vaccination is not essential, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor or health care provider if you are worried you may be at risk.


The risk of contracting rabies is extremely low in the U.K., as it’s only present in certain bat species. Most travellers don’t need to worry. But, if your work or hobbies could expose you to risk, it is worth considering.

“At risk” groups

There are many other vaccinations available, some of which are commonly offered to U.K. residents who fall into particular groups. Pregnant women, people over the age of 65, babies and all adults or children with pre-existing medical conditions should seek specific advice before they travel.

As countries differ in their recommendations, it may be that the U.K. advises vaccinations for these groups that are not common practice in your home country — or vice versa.

Seeking help and advice

The U.K. is a healthy and safe place to live, but this can mean that you need to work a little harder to find out what protection is right for you. Add in the fact the U.K. has a combination of public and private medical providers — with different charges applied to foreign nationals — and things can quickly get confusing.

Getting in touch with Aetna International could help take the stress out of your move. We don’t just cover you for the care you need; we also offer useful advice and pre-trip planning to make sure you’re protected before you set off overseas.

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