On the one hand, Ireland is not notorious for anything as frightening as Zika or Ebola. On the other hand, some vaccines should be done, and up to date. Of course, all of this is your own decision, as there are no required and controlled vaccinations for travelers entering at Irish ports or airports. So, if you are an anti-vaxxer, feel free to risk your own life.
If you are a sensible person, however, you should make sure that you are at least up to date on any routine vaccines.
As any trip to a foreign country will expose you to a different level of risk to that experienced at home, your routine vaccines should be checked and, if necessary, be refreshed well before any travel.
Vaccines included in this group are the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, the diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, and the polio vaccine. You may also consider the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine as a preventive measure beyond any travel plans.
It is also recommended that you had your annual flu shot - especially if you belong to any risk group.
Further Vaccines Recommended
Your doctor will generally be able to tell you best what vaccines and medicines you may need. He or she will base the advice on where you are going, how long you will be going, what your plans are, and what he knows about your lifestyle.
More than likely, one of the recommendations will be a vaccination against hepatitis:
- Hepatitis A - outbreaks of hepatitis A are constantly recorded throughout the world, sometimes even in countries considered "low risk". An infection with hepatitis A in Ireland may occur through contaminated food or water in Ireland.
- Hepatitis B - the risk of being infected with hepatitis B is, in some demographics, higher. As the disease can be transmitted through sexual contact, as well as through blood, or contaminated instruments breaking your skin. If you are likely to have sex with a new acquaintance in Ireland or are planning to get a tattoo (or piercing), get vaccinated. If you consider yourself outside this demographic, remember that any invasive medical procedures bear the risk of an infection with hepatitis B as well ... and you cannot plan for these in emergencies.
Please take note that having unprotected sex in Ireland with a stranger is not recommended anyway - the prevalence of all sorts of sexually transmitted diseases in Ireland is quite high. And don't believe the rumors: condoms are widely available in Ireland, without any problems.
A Rabies Vaccination?
Ireland is virtually rabies-free, but the deadly disease (and I mean almost certainly lethal in humans) is still present on Irish soil. Fortunately only in bats. This will not be a major risk to most travelers, as bats tend to leave humans quite alone in most circumstances.
A rabies vaccine is, however, recommended for members of these groups:
- Those involved in activities that have a risk of bat bites - especially some adventure travel and specifically caving;
- those working with or around bats, like wildlife professionals, researchers, and zookeepers;
- those fronting Black Sabbath.
When to Get Your Vaccines?
Again, your doctor will know and be able to tell you best, what vaccines you should take how far in advance - talk to your doctor as soon as you are making plans to visit Ireland, not the day before you go. He or she will then be able to provide the vaccines on a timescale that keeps you safe during your travels.
Whenever possible, the recommended intervals, especially between different vaccines or doses, should be adhered to. Only this regime will allow time for any antibodies to be produced. Also, any reaction to the vaccine needs to subside, to be sure the vaccine has been effective. Please note that there are also risk groups that may not be vaccinated on a routine basis, so further tests may be needed.