Health & insurance
Health care is readily available throughout Sardinia, but standards can vary. Pharmacists are able to advise when more specialised help is required and point you in the right direction.
Before You Go
- The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles EU citizens and nationals of Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein to free or reduced-cost state-provided health care for emergency treatment in Sardinia or other parts of Italy.
- The card is available from health centres and, in some countries, online. For more information see https://ehicdirect.org.uk. In the UK, get application forms from post offices or download them from the Department of Health (www.dh.gov.uk) website.
- The EHIC does not cover private health care, so make sure that you are treated by a state health-care provider. You will need to pay directly and fill in a treatment form; keep the form to claim any refunds. In general, you can claim back around 70% of the standard treatment cost.
- Citizens from other countries should check if there is a reciprocal arrangement for free medical care between their country and Italy. Australia, for instance, has such an agreement – carry your Medicare card.
- If you need health insurance, make sure you get a policy that covers you for the worst possible scenario, such as an accident requiring an emergency flight home.
- Find out in advance if your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or reimburse you later for overseas health expenditures.
No vaccinations are required to travel to Sardinia, though the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that all travellers should be covered for diphtheria, tetanus, the measles, mumps, rubella, polio and hepatitis B.
Availability & Cost of Health Care
- Farmacie (pharmacies), marked by a green cross, can give medical advice and sell over-the-counter medication for minor illnesses. They can advise when more specialised help is required and point you in the right direction.
- Pharmacies generally keep the same hours as shops, typically from around 9am to 1pm and 4.30pm to 8pm Monday to Friday and on Saturday mornings. Closed pharmacies display a list of the nearest ones that are open.
- For emergency treatment, go to the pronto soccorso (casualty) section of a public hospital, where you can also get emergency dental treatment.
- Available in most towns, the on-call Guardia Medica service offers assistance throughout the night (8pm to 8am) on weekends and on public holidays. It does not provide emergency care (for that go to the pronto soccorso).
Bites & Stings
- Mosquitoes are a real nuisance around low-lying marshy areas such as Cabras and Olbia, especially if you are camping. Pack mosquito repellent in summer as a matter of course.
- Jellyfish are not uncommon in Sardinian waters. But while their stings are painful, they're not dangerous. Dousing in vinegar will deactivate stingers that have not fired. Calamine lotion, antihistamines and analgesics may reduce the reaction and relieve pain.
Tap water is safe to drink in Sardinia, although many islanders prefer to buy bottled acqua minerale (mineral water), either frizzante (sparkling) or naturale (still).