Good health care is readily available in Western Europe and, for minor illnesses, pharmacists can give valuable advice and sell over-the-counter medication. They can also advise if you need specialised help and point you in the right direction. The standard of dental care is usually good.
While the situation in Eastern Europe is improving since the EU accession of many countries, quality medical care is not always readily available outside major cities, but embassies, consulates and five-star hotels can usually recommend doctors or clinics.
No jabs are necessary for Europe. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all travellers be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella and polio, regardless of their destination. Since most vaccines don’t produce immunity until at least two weeks after they’re given, visit a physician at least six weeks before departure.
Tap water is generally safe to drink in Western Europe. However, bottled water is recommended in most of Eastern Europe, and is a must in some countries, including Russia and Ukraine, where giardia can be a problem. Do not drink water from rivers or lakes as it may contain bacteria or viruses.
Condoms are widely available in Europe, however emergency contraception may not be, so take the necessary precautions.
The World Health Organization (www.who.int/ith/en) publishes the annually revised, free online book International Travel and Health. MD Travel Health (www.mdtravelhealth.com) provides up-to-date travel-health recommendations for every country.
It’s usually a good idea to consult your government’s website before departure, if one is available: