Which travel vaccines are an NHS provision and which are private?

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Please note:  This topic is very complex and to the best of my knowledge this page is providing the most up to date information (as at 20.12.22).  Travel is now part of the core contract for GP surgeries in England and the service of travel must be provided.  See FAQ 3 about providing a service.  This page will focus on the financial aspects.


There has been much confusion about this over many years with a number of surgeries doing different things and no one correcting those who are in the wrong (in the main).  There is some information written about the topic on page 16 of the RCN Competencies document.

In November 2022 the BMA updated the  Focus on Travel Immunisation page that has been available for a long period of time, and also renamed it Travel medication and vaccinations.   This page seems more ‘simplified’ and there is far less detail about the various private travel vaccines that can be charged for.  The wording explains ‘the contractor may demand or accept a fee or other remuneration…. for treatment consisting of an immunisation for which no remuneration is payable by the CCG and which is requested in connection with travel abroad’.   Previously there was a document from 2012 which had the latest guidance on this topic from the General Practitioners Committee: Focus on travel immunisations, Guidance for GPs.   This PDF document is still accessible here.  The one vaccine given sometimes for travel and has always provided debate as to whether it is given as NHS or private for travel is hepatitis B.  The detail for this remains on the BMA page Hepatitis B vaccinations, under the travel section and see below for more detail.

To summarise the charges

Travel vaccines that must always be given as part of NHS provision through GMS services are:
Hepatitis A, typhoid, cholera and polio and any combination vaccine that has one of these disease protections within the product eg. Revaxis (combined tetanus, polio and diphtheria), combined hepatitis A+B vaccines etc.

Travel vaccines that cannot be given as an NHS service and are therefore private service vaccines are:  
Japanese encephalitis, tick-borne encephalitis, yellow fever and rabies for travel purposes – (please note post exposure treatment vaccine must be an NHS provision).  Meningitis vaccine for travel (see the note of interest below)

Travel vaccines that can be given either as an NHS or private service are: but see the note 03.01.18 below on this page
Hepatitis B  (see the BMA page here where it states ‘as a practice, you may choose whether to give single hepatitis B immunisation for travel for free or charge

Other services
A charge cannot be made for travel advice, or providing a travel record book detailing the vaccines given.   Vaccine certificates for yellow fever and meningitis ACWY can be charged for although this cost is usually included in the total cost of the vaccine provision.  Equipment (e.g. mosquito nets, mosquito repellents, first aid kits etc. can be sold in an NHS setting thus generating income but for further details see the BMA guidance Focus on travel immunisations – guidance for GPs as detailed above.

NHS pages on charging here

NHS Clinical Commissioners (2019) Items which should not routinely be prescribed in primary care: Guidance for CCGs here but also PrescQIPP Bulletin 196 with the PDF directly here.

Update in 2023, there appears to also be a Bulletin 316: Travel vaccines where there are a number of documents, but I do not have access to the materials on this site.


Historical information kept on this page for interest.

A note of interest (08.09.17 and updated 09.02.18) when you look at the BMA page for  Focus on Travel Immunisation the website indicates now that meningococcal disease protection for travel (the ACWY conjugate vaccines, Menveo and Nimenrix) are only available privately.  However this contradicts the information in their guidance also available on the same page in the downloads section.  This guidance was written in November 2012 and has not be changed so there is still the option to give this vaccine NHS or privately as detailed above.  However – this is one of the two vaccines that has been discussed in the consultation document about the future of certain NHS drugs – see the piece I wrote in Practice Nurse about it here.

Update on 03.01.18

In July 2017, NHS England launched an action plan to drive out wasteful and ineffective drug prescriptions, saving the NHS over £190 million a year. A consultation document was subsequently published detailing a list of items considered need not be routinely prescribed in primary care. The outcome of this consultation was that the following vaccines should not be prescribed on the NHS exclusively for the purposes of travel (in England):
• Hepatitis B
• Japanese Encephalitis
• Meningitis ACWY
• Yellow Fever
• Tick-borne encephalitis
• Rabies
These vaccines should continue to be recommended for travel but the individual traveller will need to bear the cost of the vaccination. (NHS England 2017). A patient leaflet has been produced providing the current provision of travel vaccines – see here and scroll down to travel vaccine prescribing.

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