I’m writing this with a massive bruise on my arm- I got my latest travel vaccination a few days ago, for Japanese Encephalitis, and it’s been the biggest bruiser yet! I’m already up to speed with the majority of vaccinations travellers need from my last trip, but JE is only an issue if spending an extended period in rural Asia, which I may well just do, so I decided to fork out for it. Not cheap at around £150 for the course; but I look on vaccinations as a necessary pre-travel expense, like buying a backpack or travel insurance. I need to get my rabies boostered soon too – but I’ll probably do that whilst in Asia (specifically Bangkok), where it’ll be much cheaper! Most travellers don’t need rabies vaccines, but as my work quite definitely involves close contact with animals, again it’s a necessity.
The best website I’ve found for travel health, vaccinations, malaria prophylaxis etc is The Travel Doctor – fantastically informative. A lot of people say ”ask your GP”….. but I think it’s important to inform yourself of the risks and make your own decision regarding your healthcare choices. Your GP is only ever going to make standard recommendations, and each national health authority seems to have wildly different advice for travellers, so my recommendation: do your own homework!
Tips for UK-based backpackers: you can get your Tetanus, Diptheria, Polio, Typhoid, and Hep A all for free on the NHS. You may also be able to get Hep B for free if your GP thinks your lifestyle/work puts you at risk, or through a sexual health clinic. Travel clinic chains worth checking out for the rest are citydoc and nomad travel clinics.