Western Europe

Health risks are generally similar to those experienced in Australia, however there are a few issues listed below that travellers to Western European countries should be aware of.

The following information provides some broad and general guidelines about health risks and recommendations for travel to Western Europe. This should not be taken as a substitute for a personal consultation with one of our travel health doctors, whose advice will be specific for you and your trip and may include some things not mentioned here.

  • Plan Head - Calendar/Itinerary?

    Six to eight weeks out from departure is a good time to have a travel health consultation. You may need blood tests to check immunity to diseases or need a course of vaccines like rabies for example, and this gives you plenty of time to get everything completed. If you are travelling sooner however it's not too late for an appointment, simply make one as soon as you can.

  • Vaccine Recommendations

    Travel to Europe is a good opportunity to update the combined tetanus/diphtheria/whooping cough vaccine if more than 10 years since previously vaccinated. Measles, meningococcal, influenza, and pneumonia vaccines may also be appropriate. Decisions regarding which are most appropriate depend on duration and nature of travel, itinerary, age, underlying medical conditions and past vaccination.

List of Common Health Issues

  • Respiratory illness

    Many travellers to Europe will pick up a head cold, cough, or if unlucky the flu (characterised by sudden onset of high fevers, aches, severe lethargy and a nasty cough). Coming from Australia probably increases the risk due to exposure to new viruses in crowded spaces (airports, planes and popular tourist destinations) and the effects of long haul travel on the immune system. To reduce the risk of contracting a respiratory infection practice good hand hygiene in crowded places and keep away from others who have obvious infections (difficult on planes). If travelling to the northern winter consider flu and pneumonia vaccination (particularly if at increased risk through age or other illnesses). Symptoms that indicate medical assessment may be required include persistent high fever, shortness of breath, any chest pain or just becoming increasing unwell. Medical care in Western Europe is generally on par with Australia and most doctors speak good English, especially in major centres. Travel insurance is essential.

  • Measles

    Measles cases have reached record numbers across Western Europe. Those born before 1966 have generally had the disease and so have natural immunity, and those born after 1994 have generally had the full course of 2 measles containing vaccines. Therefore susceptible individuals tend to be those born between 1966 and 1994, or those whose parents failed to have them fully vaccinated.
    There have been many deaths in Western Europe related to the recent outbreaks. The vaccine has been proven to be safe and there is no link to the development of autism.

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  • Fitness to travel

    Increasing numbers of elderly Australians are travelling to Europe, primarily due to cheap airfares, heavy marketing of package tours, or to visit friends and relatives. Many will have multiple medical conditions. If so check with your doctor you are fit for the rigors of long haul travel, airport crowds, steps and cobblestones etc. Think about how you would cope with a deterioration in your medical condition, sudden unexpected medical events or extremes of weather. Carry sufficient medication in original packaging with a doctor’s letter outlining your medical history and listing current medications. Take out adequate travel insurance as most Western European countries don’t have reciprocal healthcare arrangements with Australia.

  • Deep Vein Thrombosis

    Because of the long flight between Australia and Europe, all travellers should take steps to avoid deep vein thrombosis, including adequate hydration and avoidance of prolonged immobilisation. Some individuals are at high risk and need to take additional measures such as wearing compression stockings or taking blood thinning medication.

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  • Meningococcal

    Currently all Australians 1-19 years of age are eligible for the free four strain meningitis ACWY vaccination. A good idea before travel for those in this age group not already vaccinated, we also tend to recommend the vaccine up to the age of 25.

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  • Influenza

    Influenza is one of the most common vaccine preventable illnesses in travellers and is generally recommended for travel to Europe.

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Latest Health Alerts

  • COVID 19 (Coronavirus)

    March 29, 2020

    As there is no non-essential overseas travel at this time this article will simply remain as an information resource for COVID-19. See our main COVID-19 page for more detailed information. We hope to be able to inform our travelers once again after this crisis passes. The links below remain trustworthy

  • Sri Lanka – Dengue Fever

    January 9, 2020

    Over 48,000 cases of dengue fever have been reported in Sri Lanka since 1st October 2019, a significant increase in incidence. Travellers should observe strict mosquito avoidance measures, particularly during daylight hours.

  • Solomon Islands – proof of measles vaccination required

    December 19, 2019

    As a result of recent outbreaks of measles in various countries, the Solomon Islands' will be requiring arriving travellers from/via American Samoa, Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Philippines, Samoa, or Tonga to show proof of measles vaccination, effective December 28th 2019. Vaccination needs to have been at least 15 days prior and