In Portugal, vaccinations are a simple and straight-forward procedure to protect against infectious diseases.
Although there is no mandatory vaccination schedule (apart from healthcare workers who must receive the diphtheria vaccine), the healthcare service in Portugal provides a full program of free vaccinations for babies, children, and other special groups. This guide helps explain the details on which are available and how to go about getting them.
- The Portuguese vaccination system
- Insurance for vaccinations in Portugal
- Vaccinations for children in Portugal
- Special groups in Portugal
- Travel vaccinations in Portugal
- Useful resources
Bupa Global is one of the world’s largest international health insurers. They offer direct access to over 1.3m medical providers worldwide, and provide direct settlements, so no up-front healthcare payment for the client is required. They provide access to leading specialists without the need to see a family doctor first, and ensure the same level of cover, whether at home or away.
The Portuguese vaccination system
Since 1965, the Portuguese National Vaccination Program (Plano Nacional de Vacinação in Portuguese; PNV for short) ensures that everyone in Portugal has access to free and accessible immunization. It constantly reviews its vaccines and procedures, and aims to provide as many people as possible with the opportunity to protect themselves against infectious diseases.
Public opinion is very much in favor of vaccinations, with the European Centre for Disease and Prevention Control (ECDC) reporting that Portugal has a 95% rate of vaccination against measles, mumps, and rubella.
Insurance for vaccinations in Portugal
Portugal has ensured that via the PNV, the majority of vaccinations are free of charge and universally available to all residents of Portugal.
For coverage on vaccines not included in the PNV scheme: chickenpox, hepatitis A, and rotavirus (gastroenteritis), there are a number of health insurance providers in Portugal, such as:
Vaccinations for children in Portugal
Vaccinations for children in Portugal are free, included in the national health PNV program. You can request the Individual Health Bulletin (in Portuguese) at your local health center, where your child is registered and their vaccinations are recorded. Newborn babies are immunized in hospitals, while children are immunized by nurses at the local health center.
The list below provides a guide to the schedule that the PNV recommends :
- Hepatitis B vaccine: at birth, two, and six months old
- Haemophilus influenzae B vaccine: at two, four, six, and 18 months old
- Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis vaccine: at two, four, six and 18 months old; in addition, a booster dose at five years old
- Polio vaccine: at two, four, six, and 18 months old; in addition, a booster dose at five years old
- Pneumococcal (PCV) vaccine: at two, four, and 12 months old
- Hib/Men C vaccine: at 12 months old
- Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine: at 12 months old; in addition, a booster dose at five years old
- HPV vaccine (girls only): at 13 years old, two doses given six months apart
Other vaccines available (but not normally recommended, nor free) are:
- Hepatitis A
- Rotavirus (gastroenteritis)
Vaccinations for special groups in Portugal
The PNV program also provides some vaccines free of charge for special groups other than those included in the routine vaccination schedule:
- Hepatitis B vaccine: risk groups such as the elderly or those considered having serious health conditions (such as cardiovascular or lung disease).
- Polio vaccine: travelers to endemic areas, laboratory workers who manage potentially contimated samples, and immuno-compromised individuals.
- MMR vaccine: women over the age of 18 who are looking to have children and who have not been previously vaccinated.
- Td (traveler’s diarrhea) vaccine: women of childbearing age and pregnant women who have not been previously vaccinated with the tetanus vaccine, and tetanus prophylaxis for wound management.
Travel vaccinations in Portugal
Vaccination requirements for entering Portugal may exist depending on your nationality; check with a Portuguese embassy or consulate in your area before you travel to Portugal to make sure. The Centers for Disease Control also provides advice for those traveling to areas that require them.
The Ministry of Health purchases the following vaccines that are recommended for travelers, which are administered in travel clinics ideally two to three months before travel:
- Japanese encephalitis
- Tetravalent vaccine against invasive meningococcal disease
- Tick-borne encephalitis (TBE)
- Typhoid fever
- Yellow fever
Travel advice or vaccines related to travel may be covered by your health insurance, although not every health insurance provider does so. Check with your local health insurance provider directly to see if travel-related healthcare is covered in your plan.
Looking for more information on vaccinations in Portugal?
- Portuguese National Vaccination Program
- The Portuguese Ministry of Health (in Portuguese)
- European Centre for Disease and Prevention Control (ECDC)