Is there a malaria vaccine for travel?

Malaria is a dangerous tropical fever that can leave you unwell for a long time. Unfortunately, there is no malaria vaccine suitable for travellers. But there are some things you can do to avoid getting infected with the parasite that causes malaria.

What is malaria?

The fever malaria is contracted by a bite from a female Anopheles mosquito that is infected with single-celled parasites called Plasmodium. Malaria can be serious or even fatal in some individuals. It can take a long time to recover from malaria. Patients often relapse several times.

If you get a fever during your time in a malarious area or within a year of your return to the UK, get medical help. When you see the doctor, tell them about your travel history. Read more about the symptoms of malaria on our malaria prophylaxis page.

The World Health Organization estimates that malaria caused 627,000 deaths in 2020 out of 241 million cases. Most (95%) occurred in Africa. Malaria can be contracted in many tropical and subtropical areas. All travellers to regions where malaria is endemic should take precautions to avoid this dangerous fever.

Malaria vaccines are available to people living in places where malaria is endemic, but not to travellers yet.

If you want to know whether you need to protect yourself against malaria on your holiday or business trip, ask your travel health adviser when you come to get your travel jabs at NX Travel Health Clinics.

How can I protect myself against malaria?

Because you can’t get a malaria vaccine for travel, your regime for avoiding malaria needs to combine two approaches to be truly effective. The first is malaria chemoprophylaxis. The second is mosquito bite avoidance.

What is malaria prophylaxis?

There is no malaria vaccine for travellers but there are anti-malarial pills that you should take if you are at risk of catching malaria. Malaria tablets will reduce your risk of this potentially fatal disease by 90%. There are several different anti-malarials available. Your nurse adviser will take your medical and family history and ask about your destination to make the right choice. Anti-malarial tablets include:

  • atovaquone plus proguanil
  • doxycycline
  • mefloquine (also known as Lariam)

If you are going to several places it can be hard to work out when to start your malaria prophylaxis. Talk about your itinerary with an adviser at one of our travel clinics and they can help you out.

For effective protection, travellers need to complete the course of tablets. If your travel plans change while you are away or you suffer from side effects, speak to a healthcare professional before stopping your pills.

How do I avoid mosquito bites?

The Anopheles mosquito is most active at night, so in the evening wear trousers rather than shorts; and a long-sleeved top.

Rooms with air con, or with screened doors and windows are protect against mosquito bites. Or failing that, sleep under nets that have been treated with an insecticide.

An insect repellent with DEET will give good protection, too. DEET repellents are available from pharmacies and outdoor shops. See our blogpost for more about avoiding mosquito bites, including how to apply a mosquito repellent to maximise protection.

I’m looking for a travel clinic near me where I can get malaria prophylaxis

Look no further than NX Travel Health Clinics if you need travel vaccinations and malaria tablets. We can offer evening and early morning appointments for your convenience in many of city centre locations. Book online now.