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What Shots Do I Need for Greece?

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Updated January 12, 2011
One question I get asked frequently is what shots travelers need for their trips to Greece.

The Good News on Shots

The good news is that you don't require any innoculations for travel to Greece. None are needed for you to visit Greece as a tourist or to get a visa for a longer stay. But read on...

The Other News on Shots

Even though no shots are needed for travel to Greece, savvy or frequent travelers may find some of these shots protect them against worry. If you do choose to get any of these shots, avoid receiving them in the last few weeks before your travel to Greece. They won't be as effective without enough time to take effect, and any innoculation carries with it the chance of a reaction or of mild illness, and you don't need to have that spoil your trip to Greece.

Usual Flu Shots
Right now, worldwide, bird flu is a concern and it has been found in wild birds in Greece. Because of this, travelers may want to be up-to-date on their ordinary flu shots. The reasoning for this is that if you do contract a flu-like illness while traveling, you can pay more attention to it since it will be a little less likely that it is an ordinary case of flu.

While there are many varieties of flu, and the flu shots given in the United States and elsewhere are designed to just battle the most prevalent strain, this will offer some protection against a potentially trip-threatening illness. Ordinary flu shots will not protect against bird flu, however.

If a bird flu vaccine is developed, as seems likely in the next year or so, it might be worthwhile for any traveler going to any destination.

Greece has also suffered from the Swine Flu (H1N1) epidemic, though this has subsided. Hepatitis Shots for Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B are a good idea for the frequent traveler in general. Since these require a series of shots, they should be planned well in advance of your trip date.

Tetanus
Your chance of stepping on a rusty nail and developing tetanus is no greater in Greece than anywhere else, but if you haven't had a tetanus shot in the last ten years, you may want to update yours. Again, this is not required, but gives you one more layer of protection. Lockjaw is no fun on vacation.

"Pharmacy" - It's a Greek Word!

Greece, home of Hippocrates and Asclepius, is a land of pharmacies, and every town of size has one. Cities will have many, with some designated to stay open all night. If a pharmacy is closed, a notice on the door will give the address of the nearest pharmacy designated to be open that day.

Look for the "Green Cross"

Greek pharmacies can be spotted by a green equal-armed cross, either lit up in neon or against a white background.

Many drugs that require prescriptions in the United States and Canada are sold over-the-counter in Greece, usually at a fraction of the price paid in North America. Pharmacists are usually very decent diagnosticians and speak English; they can help you with many medical problems and can be your first line of defense if you're feeling sick in Greece.

If you have a problem but are hesitating to go through the process of seeing a "real doctor" or visiting a foreign urgent care on your trip, pop into the local pharmacy and see what they have to say. You may not need that appointment after all. For medical emergencies, ask your hotel staff or call the Tourist Police for a recommendation of an English-speaking doctor in your area.

Pharmacies also have a wide range of Greek health and beauty products, and visiting them can be a fun time of browsing. But the downside of the prevalence of Greek pharmacies is that your average market will carry few, if any, health-related items at all, leaving that to the professionals down the street. Larger pharmacies will have active sales personnel in white coats standing by to help you; you won't be expected to wander up to the shelves without someone in close attendance, so unobtrusively selecting that box of sanitary napkins or nose-hair clipper is usually out of the question. How to Make Your Own First-Aid Kit for Greece

Health-Related Phone Number List for Greece

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