Until very recently the first port of call for anyone wanting vaccinations for travel was the GP. Now it seems that you can get travel vaccinations and other medicines such as antimalarials from a whole host of providers. Walk into almost any pharmacy, including the big chains, and you will see travel health and ‘holiday vaccines’ being offered. Go online and there are pages of providers in some parts of the country, ranging from large doctor walk in service providers to small one band operations and specialists like Nomad. So what do you choose? Probably the best way to judge is on three requirements; cost, convenience and expertise. Lets have a look at the three types of providers, that is the GP, the high street pharmacy and the private clinics.
The big advantage of going to the GP is that three of the common travel vaccines can be obtained free of charge on the NHS. These are typhoid, hepatitis A and the diptheria/polio/tetanus vaccine. However they will usually charge for all the others which are commonly Yellow fever, hepatitis B, Meningitis and less common ones such as Japanese B encephalitis, The NHS ones are actually the cheaper vaccines and for the others they will usually be charging the same or more than the private clinics/pharmacies. The GP usually falls down on convenience. With other priorities GPs are increasingly putting travel health as a lower priority .So you will be restricted to only certain clinics and need to plan well in advance to get in the appointment. Remember that you will rarely being seeing a doctor for the appointment and the practice nurse competence will be extremely variable. So some may well have good training in travel medicine but otherwise they may have little or no training.
Pharmacists have only been involved in administering vaccines in the last few years. There is little doubt that on the surface they appear to be the most convenient with the multiples having so many outlets. However, getting appointments at the times you want can be a difficult procedure. The method varies but can involve having to fill out forms on line, making sure the pharmacy stocks the vaccine and then fitting into an appointment slot at the pharmacy in the location you want. Training for pharmacists is variable like the practice nurse but most would be far from ‘expert’ in the subject. There is no NHS free vaccines available and prices can vary quite a bit. Not all can give the full range of vaccines such as Yellow fever.
In terms of convenience, providing there is one in your area, these can often prove to be a good option. Same or next day appointments are often possible with some offering call centre and online booking services. However, some services actually have very limited booking in a particular area with nurses going from site to site and only being open one or two days per week. Expertise can be excellent with companies like Nomad offering training to their nurses to a very high standard. Other ‘one man’ single clinics are sometimes run by real experts in the field. But beware some ‘Dr walk-in clinic chains’ are often manned by those with no real expertise, watch out for travel clinics that offer a range of GP services. In terms of price, although they cant offer NHS vaccines, they sometimes can have remarkably low prices for some beating that offered by a pharmacy.
If there is a good travel clinic in your area then there is no reason why you should not use that clinic for a consultation and the non NHS vaccines and go to the GP for the others, though that can be a bit of a hassle
So where should I go?
Taking the above into account if you are travelling for a few weeks holiday to somewhere that is really a tourist destination and you have enough time and flexibility in appointments then go to the GP. If your GP seems reluctant to give you the appointments and convenience you would like than a pharmacy might be a good option. If there is a good travel clinic in your area then there is no reason why you should not use that clinic for a consultation and the non NHS vaccines and go to the GP for the others, though that can be a bit of a hassle. The bottom line is that for the average tourist where it is probably less important to have someone well trained giving you the service, simply decide if you want a convenient one stop services or are more budget conscious and want to shop around.
There though a whole host of travellers who really should be consulting with travel health experts before they go. That list includes:
- Travellers who have pre-exiting conditions including the elderly traveller.
- Those going away for longer periods of time, generally more than a month. In particular if visiting many countries.
- If pregnant or breast feeding or travelling with very young children.
- Those on Gap year travel and those with companies such as World Challenge and Raleigh.
- Adventure ‘expedition’ style travel and including type of ‘wilderness’ travel. This is offered by companies like Dragoman.
So unashamedly I am suggesting Nomad as a first choice for the above types of traveller.
Why choose Nomad?
Matching the company against the above it ticks all of the boxes:
- Expert and highly trained travel nurses. Also backed up by myself and a number of real experts in the subject of travel medicine.
- Nationwide distribution of clinics that only do travel medicine. Some clinics have three nurse bays and all they do is travel health.
- A convenient call centre and on line booking systems that will give next day or sometimes same day service.
- Nomad can supply a range of specialist medical kits that contain prescription medicines including antibiotics.
- Often cheaper prices for some vaccines and antimalarial tablets than the competitors.
- Uniquely Nomad is a true all in one stores because you can purchase everything for your travel from insect repellents to rucksacks no matter how specialist your requirements.
- We are actually the recommended company for organisations such as Raleigh and Dragoman. We are used by a number of expedition companies and organisations like film crews sending their staff overseas on hazardous missions.
Really there is little reason not to visit Nomad whatever type of traveller you happen to be.