It probably seems weird that vaccinations are this high up your list of priorities, but it can be a lengthy process ensuring you’re immune to all the right diseases. Some vaccines require months between doses, some can’t be done at the same time, and some may not even be available in your country…

Most of your vaccinations should be up to date if you’ve been on student clinical placements at Uni or worked in the health system, but there are a few extras you’ll need both for travelling and for working in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS).

Working for NSW Health at the time I thought I’d be all set to jet, but as it turned out I needed a few boosters to meet UK requirements – was definitely glad I’d allowed plenty of time!

In saying that, it is possible, but pricey to chase up your jabs while in the UK. You may just find it easier to get on to it while you’re still in your home country.

Remember that you’ll need documented evidence of your immunity to show your potential employers when applying for jobs. Make sure your adult vaccination card (or equivalent) is up to date and/or you have a stamped and signed letter on a clinic letterhead with your serology results to produce upon request.

This list is a general guideline written by someone (me, specifically) who is not a medical professional and current only at the time of writing, so please ensure you check in with your GP and employer/recruitment agency for more up to date info just in case things change.

** 2021 addition: big changes to vaccines since I initially wrote this in 2017 thanks to a certain pandemic!**


The routine ones…

You’ll more than likely have these sorted, but just to make sure:

Hepatitis B

If you need to catch up you’ll need 3 doses (doses 1 and 2 one month apart, doses 2 and 3 two months apart).

Although I was up to date with this one, my recruitment agency required serology results showing levels above 100iu/ml. As mine were only in the 50’s I had to get another booster. Just check what your employer will require.


DTP (diptheria, tetanus, pertussis)

If you need to catch up you’ll need 3 doses (each 4 weeks apart).


MMR (measles, mumps, rubella)

If you need to catch up you’ll need 2 doses (4 weeks apart).


Varicella (chicken pox)

If you need to catch up you’ll need 2 doses (4 weeks apart).

You may also be able to sign a declaration to say you’ve had chicken pox or shingles before.



Optional annually


The UK specific ones…

Tuberculosis (TB)

This one is a bit of a pain to organise.

Your UK employer will require evidence of either a BCG vaccine OR a positive Mantoux test to demonstrate that you have antibodies to TB.

The steps are:

  • The Mantoux test: a skin test to a small subcutaneous injection that determines whether you’ve been exposed to TB in the past. A negative test means your skin doesn’t react and you haven’t been exposed – you’ll need a BCG vaccine. A positive test (a mark on your skin > 6mm) means you have antibodies in your system already, so you may not need a BCG vaccine.
  • The BCG vaccine (if required): The problem here is that this vaccination is not readily available in some countries (e.g. Australia) because local TB rates are so low. You’ll probably have to get this one done in the UK.

Don’t make the mistake I made. Trying to be super organised and save some pounds I had a Mantoux test done in Australia, with the plan to take the result to the UK. However, the GP clinic I attended in London required that they sight the Mantoux test result themselves before administering the BCG vaccine – unfortunately you’ll probably have to pay for both injections in the UK.

The other kicker is that the vaccination isn’t that effective anyway, and not everyone is at risk of occupational exposure (those working on respiratory wards may be more at risk). You may have the option to sign a form and opt out of having it done depending on your circumstances. I’m not really sure why they push it, but that’s a debate for those working in public health I suppose…


The travel ones…

I’ll just remind you once again that I’m not a doctor and can’t provide medical advice, nor recommend vaccinations.

But I can inform you that I got a few other travel jabs up to date since I already had my sleeve rolled up – it might be something you want to take advantage of too.

Depending on where you intend to travel, discuss the following with your medical professional (they aren’t all required in all destinations):

  • Hepatitis A
  • Typhoid
  • Cholera
  • Rabies
  • Japanese Encephalitis
  • Tick-borne Encephalitis
  • Yellow Fever
  • **2021 addition: COVID-19


Hope you get a lollipop!


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