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Health

Before You Go

Recommended Vaccinations

  • There are no required vaccinations for travellers visiting Slovakia. As in other European countries, it's wise to be up to date on MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccines before travel.
  • Camping and walking in areas with forest or long grass brings the risk of exposure to ticks, some of which carry the potentially serious illness tick-borne encephalitis (TBE). If your travels in Slovakia involve outdoor activities between March and November, when ticks are active, it's worth considering a TBE vaccine.
  • At the time of writing, Slovakia's Trenčín region was considered to be particularly high risk for TBE. Guard against tick bites with insect repellent, long sleeves and trousers. Check your body (and your pet's!) for ticks after hiking or sitting in grass. Remove a tick swiftly using clean tweezers, gripping it at the mouth end, and wash the area thoroughly. Seek medical attention for flu-like symptoms one to two weeks after time spent in the outdoors (be aware that a bite may have gone unnoticed).
  • Travellers planning to spent time in remote areas or caving should strongly consider a rabies vaccine. The virus that causes this fatal disease is present in some bats and foxes in Slovakia. Even with the vaccine, it's essential to seek immediate medical attention after being bitten, scratched or licked by any wild mammals.

Health Insurance

  • Citizens of EU countries should get a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before embarking on their travels. The card entitles the bearer to free or reduced cost state healthcare in EU countries, including Slovakia.
  • We highly recommend securing a travel insurance policy before travelling to Slovakia, particularly if you are a non-EU citizen. Make sure the policy covers repatriation to your home country in the event of serious illness.
  • Even insured travellers in Slovakia may be asked to pay ambulance costs and other health expenses up front and in cash. Keep all receipts to supply to your insurer for reimbursement.
  • Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.

In Slovakia

Availability & Cost of Healthcare

  • Healthcare is reasonably priced by western European standards (and cheap by US standards). Care is generally of a high level of quality though – as is the case in most countries – state-of-the-art hospitals and high standards of care are likelier in big cities than small towns.
  • All towns have at least one pharmacy (lekáreň), where you can purchase painkillers and medication for minor ailments without the need to involve your travel insurer. For anything more serious, large towns will have one or more hospital (nemocnica).
  • European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) holders are entitled to free or reduced-cost state healthcare, except for pre-existing and non-urgent conditions. Even with an EHIC, small charges apply for prescriptions and admission to emergency healthcare clinics but these are in the region of only a few euro.
  • Note that state healthcare doesn't guarantee a practitioner who speaks your language. For straightforward health issues (eg a broken wrist) a local friend who speaks both Slovak and English may be sufficient to navigate the healthcare system.
  • For a doctor with English-language skills, private care is a better option; a good travel insurance plan will cover this. However you may need to ask locally or refer to private clinics' websites to ascertain whether their caregivers speak English. For complex health issues, where the cause of illness is unknown or where you may been required to discuss your health history, this is strongly recommended.

Tap Water

There's absolutely no need to buy bottled water in Slovakia, the tap water is safe to drink – good news for wallets and for the environment. Other than instances where a crossed-out warning symbol is posted above a tap (for example, in some public toilets) you can expect water issuing from taps to be potable. Travellers prone to upset stomachs may choose to bring a portable water filter for peace of mind when drinking tap water.

Note that mineral-rich waters are highly prized in Slovakia, and in spa towns you are likely to see locals queuing to fill containers with water piped from underground sources. Because of the mineral content, this water can be warm, fizzy or with a strong metallic taste. Travellers unused to it may find that these mineral waters cause nausea. Limit yourself to a few sips if you have a delicate stomach.