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Holidaymakers ignore vital vaccinations

Press release: 30/06/2010

Holidaymakers are putting themselves at risk of serious illness by not having recommended travel vaccinations, as GPs report a rise in the cost of jabs.

According to travel insurer LV=, more than a quarter (26%) of holidaymakers travelling in the past 12 months [1] went without the recommended vaccinations for illnesses such as Hepatitis A, Typhoid and Diphtheria.

The LV= report found that most of the holidaymakers who didn’t have jabs (19%) simply didn’t bother to seek medical advice and so were unaware of the health risks they could potentially face and one in fifteen (7%) actually ignored medical advice to be vaccinated.

The research found that cost is contributing to holidaymakers' reticence to have the appropriate vaccinations, with more than one in ten (12%) who didn’t have vaccinations doing so for financial reasons. As part of the LV= report, GP practices were also questioned about their vaccination prices and close to half (43%) reported a rise in the cost of vaccinations over the past five years. The cost of Malaria tablets has increased most steeply, increasing by more than 11%.

Travellers going to far flung destinations such as Thailand, Mexico or India would on average, spend £93 on recommended medication.

Complacency among tourists about the health risks abroad also appears to be a major factor, with close to half (46%) of all holidaymakers doing no research at all into the medical risks before setting off.

Indeed, many popular destinations are considered 'safe zones' by holidaymakers despite GPs recommending vaccinations for these countries. Turkey (28%), Barbados (14%) and Hong Kong (14%) topped the list of countries that holidaymakers thought posed no health risk.

Holidaymakers surveyed also admitted to cutting other corners when protecting their health abroad. Just one in three (35%) travellers carry a first aid kit and one in five (20%) ignore advice to drink only bottled water.

The result is a surge in the number of Brits falling victim to avoidable illness while abroad. More than 350,000[2] Brits reported falling ill while on holiday in the past year with diseases ranging from Malaria to stomach upsets.

LV= is today urging all holidaymakers to research their destination properly before travelling to ensure they do not leave themselves open to disease or other health issues.

John O’Roarke, managing director of LV= travel insurance, said: "The world is a smaller place than it was a few decades ago and it's becoming normal for holidaymakers to travel to far flung destinations. But while holidaymakers are becoming more adventurous, this research shows they don’t always consider the health risks of travelling to exotic destinations. Over 3,000 Brits were hospitalised last year while abroad [3] , and we know many thousands more report falling ill while they’re away. Although the LV= travel insurance policy covers holidaymakers regardless of whether they get the right jabs, many other policies don’t. So as well as having a ruined holiday, travellers could end up with medical bills running into thousands of pounds."

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Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 2,514 UK adults [aged 18+] who have been abroad in the past 5 years. Fieldwork took place 14 -18 June 2010. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.

Opinium Research carried out an online survey among 103 UK GPs (general practitioners) who offer travel vaccinations. Fieldwork took place 18 - 22 June 2010.

[1] Opinium questioned holidaymakers about their experiences travelling to the most popular long haul, short haul and package destinations and 2010 ‘hotspots’ as outlined in the ABTA 2010 travel trends report. These destinations were then analysed against vaccination guidelines by country as produced by Overall 26% of holidaymakers travelling to destinations where vaccinations were recommended did not have vaccinations prior to travelling, after either rejecting medical advice (7%) or without having sought medical advice (19%).

[2] Current population estimates from ONS report there are 48,281,900 adults in the UK. Of these one in twenty claim to have fallen victim to an illness while abroad. Of these 23% caught this illness in the past twelve months or 379,912 people.

[3] According to the FCO British Behaviour Report 2009.


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